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Thomas Hawthorne/The Arizona Republic-USA TODAY

In Exchange For Improved Safety, Governor Offers PG&E Help With Wildfire Costs

Doug Sovern
June 21, 2019 - 2:26 pm

Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed on Friday a framework for a massive wildfire insurance fund with the cost split between utility companies and their customers.

If Pacific Gas & Electric, SoCal Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric agree to spend $3 billion on wildfire prevention, then the state will create a $21 billion fund to help them cover the costs from future fires, Newsom said.

Half that money would come from a $2.50 surcharge on rate-payers' bills, with the other half coming from the utilities themselves, if they agree to participate.

“We give an option on the fund. It’s all about safety. We focus on deep reforms at PG&E,” Newsom said. “We tie compensation to safety, and we put a timeline and a date on getting them out of bankruptcy as a predicate for entering in and engaging with any of these fund alternatives.”

Newsom told KCBS Radio that PG&E would have to be solvent again by June 2020. This deal would have to be approved by the legislature and consummated by July 12.

Related: PG&E To Pay Up To $1 Billion For Wildfire Damage

“In the absence of doing anything, the rate-payers, the taxpayers and the victims are going to be most impacted,” he said. “We need to protect the rate-payers. We need to protect the taxpayers and the victims. Everything in our strategy is predicated on that three-legged stool.”

The governor believes he has the support of the legislative leadership, but admitted it's a complex plan with a lot of moving parts that are subject to negotiation.