[REGIONAL NEWS] California governor seeks to protect utilities from the cost of wildfires

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced April 12, 2019 a panel’s findings that California should change its laws on wildfire liabilities, giving PG&E and other utilities more protection
against billion-dollar claims. / Alyssa Hodenfield/CAL OES

By Peter Eavis | The New York Times

With another wildfire season looming, Gov. Gavin Newsom of California on Friday urged the state Legislature to help Pacific Gas & Electric and other utilities bear the cost of fires started by their equipment.

Mr. Newsom’s announcement came in response to PG&E’s bankruptcy filing in January, which has raised difficult questions about who should pay for the billions of dollars in damage caused by wildfires and how California could reduce the frequency and severity of those fires.

“If we don’t begin to try and manifest the ideas in this report, our future is not very bright,” Mr. Newsom said after releasing a document that outlined several proposals in general terms without providing many hard details.

Utility equipment has caused many of California’s deadliest recent wildfires, but PG&E’s bankruptcy shows that these companies may not be able to bear those costs.

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