Let PG&E 'Off the Hook' for Wildfire Costs? If Not, Your Utility Bills Could Rise
By Taryn Luna
It may be the toughest question the California Legislature takes up this year: Who should pay the bill for massive wildfires?
Today, California utilities could be on the hook for billions of dollars in damages if investigators connect their equipment to what became the largest and most destructive wildfires in state history.
But the companies led by PG&E are making a case at the Capitol to reduce their property damage liability. With help from labor, they're arguing the fatal wildfire season the state experienced last year was a sign of climate change-fueled "new normal."
Lawmakers and experts say there’s lot at stake for California residents.
If the utilities prevail, the insurance industry anticipates raising premiums on homeowners and declining coverage in some neighborhoods altogether. With no change, your gas and electric bills could shoot up.
“When those fires happened and they burned down all of those houses, costs went up for Californians,” said Michael Wara, a research scholar focused on climate and energy policy at Stanford University Law School.