SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gov. Gavin Newsom has rejected a $13.5 billion settlement that Pacific Gas and Electric struck just last week with thousands of people who lost homes, businesses and family members in a series of devastating fires that drove the nation’s largest utility into bankruptcy.
The decision announced Friday in a five-page letter to PG&E CEO William D. Johnson marks a major setback in the utility’s race to meet a June 30 deadline to emerge from bankruptcy protection.
The San Francisco-based company needs to pull a deal off to be able to draw from a special fund created by Newsom and state lawmakers to help insulate utilities if their equipment sparks other catastrophic fires. The risks have escalated during the past few years amid dry, windy conditions that have become more severe in a changing climate.
In his letter, Newsom said the proposed settlement does not achieve the goal of the plan’s most important elements, which are providing safe and reliable power to its customers.