Newsom: PG&E takeover plan could come in next few weeks

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday that his office will release a “detailed plan” to have the state take over Pacific Gas & Electric in the next few weeks if the company doesn’t update its bankruptcy plan to his liking.

Newsom said the company is “making progress” on its governance structure but that it still must improve its financial plan to exit from Chapter 11 protection. He said his office meets daily with PG&E.
However, Newsom said on the sidelines of a Public Policy Institute of California event, “If we don’t see real progress in the next few weeks, then we will be laying out the architecture for a very detailed plan for a state takeover.”

The governor continued to characterize a state takeover as a “break-the-glass scenario,” saying on stage at the PPIC event that PG&E’s bankruptcy has “turned out to be an extraordinary opportunity” for the state to evaluate all of its energy policies. “I hope that [company] potentially can make every one of us proud and can be a model for the rest of the nation if we do our job,” Newsom said.

Asked about potential taxpayer costs to a state takeover, Newsom said California residents are already “bearing the price, the economic cost, lives lost, an economy that’s been impacted” by fires and power shutoffs.

“We care about public safety, we care about our economy, we care about [a] 21st-century utility,” he continued. “And to the extent they cannot figure out a way to do that, we’ll have to do it for them. It’s not the preferred option, but it’s a necessary option if they can’t do that for themselves.”

PG&E on Friday is slated to file testimony with state regulators defending its bankruptcy plan, the next significant step in the Chapter 11 case. Newsom last week rejected an earlier version of PG&E’s plan, saying it lacked sufficient improvements in governance, safety and transparency.

By Colby Bermel 01/29/2020 06:41 PM EST