PG&E Proposes $235 Million in Bonuses for 2019 Despite Wildfire-Linked Bankruptcy

March 07, 2019

Mercury News
By George Avalos

PG&E, despite filing for a bankruptcy linked to potential liabilities from lethal wildfires in 2017 and 2018, has urged a judge to approve $235 million in bonuses during 2019 for thousands of employees, court records show.

“$235 million would go a long way to support the victims of last year’s wildfires,” said state Sen. Jerry Hill, who represents parts of Santa Clara County and San Mateo County.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 29 partly to ward off a host of debts, including an estimated $30 billion in potential wildfire-related liabilities. The filing also put in limbo payments of claims from wildfire victims and other creditors of the utility. In its filing he utility listed $51.7 billion in debts and $71.4 billion in assets.

PG&E had already been pilloried for a prior plan — discarded by the company after volleys of complaints — to award $130 million in bonuses to 14,000 employees for their performance during 2018. Critics noted that the company had intended to reward employees during a year that included the Camp Fire in Butte County, the most deadly and destructive wildfire in California history.

“Because of the bankruptcy the wildfire victims will be left out in the cold,” said Hill, whose district includes San Bruno, site of a deadly 2010 gas explosion caused by PG&E that killed eight people. In 2016, PG&E became a convicted felon after being found guilty of crimes associated with the blast.