PG&E Proposes a Fund for Victims of the 2017-2018 Wildfires

Prior to investigations finding PG&E’s transmissions lines responsible for California’s devastating wildfires, the utility said it wanted to create a fund for victims of the fires.

PG&E is hoping to establish a $105-million fund to aid victims with housing and living expenses.

The utility filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court in which it stated that lawsuits related to the wildfires would take years to go through the court system. PG&E argued that “many of those who lost their homes in the 2017 and 2018 fires continue to struggle to find affordable housing.” Victims are either uninsured or will soon run out of the living expenses provided by their insurance company.

PG&E filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier in the year, primarily because of the potential liabilities associated with the wildfires. The utility asked the bankruptcy court for permission to establish the $105 million fund.

A third-party fund administrator will determine the exact eligibility requirements for the fund. In the motion, PG&E said victims who were most in need, such as those who are living in tents, would receive priority.

The utility said in a written statement that they “recognize that there are victims of the 2017 and 2018 wildfires in immediate need.” PG&E said that they “feel strongly” that the fund is the right thing to do to help victims in this time of need. There are many in Butte County who are still living in tents and trailers.

If approved by the court, the money would come just in time for many of the victims. Insurance policies generally only offer living expenses for one to two years. Many of the survivors will lose their payments this fall.

Some victims had been lobbying for a larger fund of $250 million, but the key important thing, they say, is to ensure that the money gets out quickly to those in need.