PG&E and the First Climate Change Bankruptcy
In early 2020, the California-based utility PG&E filed a second amended plan of reorganization. PG&E had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the face of more than $30 billion of legal claims brought against it for its alleged role in causing California wildfires. The plan had the support of key creditors and shareholders and a court-appointed committee representing the wildfire victims. However, it faced strong opposition from California's governor, Gavin Newsom, who was concerned that PG&E's plan would leave it too highly leveraged, and unable to make necessary investments. Were Newsom's concerns valid ones? Did the plan as currently envisioned leave the reorganized PG&E with too much debt to meet its obligations to the wildfire victims while still making the necessary investments to update its equipment? And was PG&E prepared for the new reality of climate change?