Recognizing its role in reviewing any reorganization plan forthcoming in the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) bankruptcy, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has issued a new Order Instituting Investigation (I.19-09-016) as the forum for consideration of ratemaking and other issues.
PG&E and its parent corporation filed a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization in the bankruptcy court on September 9, 2019. While that plan still needs to proceed through bankruptcy court proceedings (along with any alternative plans or amendments proposed by other parties), the CPUC’s order notes that the PG&E plan will ultimately require CPUC confirmation and additional regulatory authorizations covering matters within its jurisdiction. The new investigation docket will enable party participation and resolve these matters “as necessary for the timely confirmation implementation of a proposed plan.”
The new proceeding will also provide a forum for consideration of other statutory approvals established by the California Legislature in Assembly Bill 1054 as prerequisites for PG&E to become eligible to participate in the California Wildfire Fund. The Fund was established to pay eligible claims to victims of wildfires in advance of CPUC proceedings to determine cost recovery of wildfire costs and expenses. All three of the large California investor-owned utilities have provided notice of their intent to participate in the Fund, but AB 1054 lists a number of additional bankruptcy court and regulatory determinations that must be made by June 30, 2020 in order for PG&E to participate. Among these are CPUC approval of the PG&E reorganization, and determinations regarding the plan’s impact on safety, California’s climate goals, and ratepayer impacts, among other things. The scope of issues included in the new proceeding includes all of the above, and indicates the Commission’s intention to meet the June 30, 2020 statutory deadline.
Ellison Schneider Harris & Donlan attorneys are following the PG&E bankruptcy and CPUC proceedings related to the California wildfires. For more information about this proceeding or related matters, contact Andy Brown, Lynn Haug or Samantha Neumyer.