When it filed bankruptcy, PG&E committed to pay its army of bankruptcy lawyers on a monthly basis many millions of dollars in fees.  Some of that money might better be directed to PG&E victims who have been homeless for years now, especially since PG&E swears in court that it filed it bankruptcy to serve the best interests of its victims.

Just how much will the bankruptcy lawyers take from the pot?  Hard to say exactly, but certainly more than $1 million per day.  Before all is said and done, fees are likely to total more than $750 million, perhaps a billion dollars.  Nice haul.

The last large utility to file bankruptcy was the Texas utility called Energy Future Holdings in 2104.  That bankruptcy yielded professional fees of more than $600 million.

But the Texas utility hadn’t hired PG&E’s New York lawyers, Weil Gotshal, who are among the world’s priciest.  Weil Gotshal’s partners — and there is an army of them — charge bankrupt companies over $1500 per hour. Weil Gotshal’s paralegals bill out at more than $400 per hour – more than the partners in many San Francisco law firms.  Heck, one of Weil Gotshal’s paralegals billed the Sears bankruptcy estate more than $170,000.  In one month.

Seems that PG&E has plenty of money for its lawyers.  If PG&E really cared about its victims, its hard to see why it couldn’t see its way clear to honor its promise a few weeks ago to throw a few dollars towards the victims of the 2015 Butte fire. After all, they lost everything and have been waiting more than three years to be paid.

PG&E told he bankruptcy judge today that its goal in bankruptcy is to establish a fund against which wildfire victims can make a claim.  Our Northern California Wildfire Lawyers explained why PG&E is not to be trusted.

Dario DeGhetaldi, Amanda Riddle, and Mike Danko explain why PG&E should be viewed with skepticism

 

Will Bonuses and Lawyers Take Money From Victims?
PG&E Gives VP a Raise Days Before Filing for Bankruptcy

Judge Alsup ruled that PG&E violated the felony probation imposed upon it after the San Bruno explosion. While PG&E says safety is its number one priority, the judge said that is untrue.  Rather, PG&E’s number one priority seems to be profits.

In 2017 alone, PG&E was responsible for starting 17 wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes and burned alive 22 people.    The judge believes it is his job to protect the public from future crimes this convicted felon may commit.  The question is exactly how to accomplish that objective.

Ordering that the power be turned off when the risk of wildfire is high will cause inconvenience, but may be the only way to keep Californians safe from PG&E.

As discussed here, PG&E, after being found liable for the 2015 Butte fire, agreed to pay certain victims settlements so that they could begin repair of their homes.  Those payments were due yesterday.  But instead of making the payments, PG&E reneged, stating that it needed cash for “operational integrity and safe delivery of natural gas and electricity.” Apparently, that’s PG&E code for “management raises.”

From PG&E filing of today with the SEC:

PG&E has money for management raises, but not for wildfire victims

The 2015 Butte Fire burned 77,000 acres and destroyed 500 homes.  The court determined long ago, as did Cal Fire, that PG&E was responsible for causing that fire.  After more than 3 years of litigation, PG&E agreed to pay at least some of the most desperate victims what is due them.  PG&E was supposed to make those payments today.  But it didn’t.  Instead, it is reneging.   Is PG&E holding on to the money so it can instead pay Geisha Williams, the CEO who was in charge when the file started, her $2.5 million bonus?

After PG&E was convicted of various felonies in connection with the San Bruno explosion, it was placed on probation.  The judge overseeing that probation believes that the leading cause of fires such as the Camp Fire is the fact that PG&E does not insulate its power lines.  ABC7 asks me about the latest of Judge Alsup’s orders.

 

ABC7 asks Mike Danko about PG&E’s Uninsulated Wires and the Risk of Wildfires

PG&E says that its bankruptcy will be in the best interests of its wildfire victims.  Not true.  PG&E’s only motivation in filing for bankruptcy is to protect shareholder value by keeping as much money as possible out of the hands of its victims and in the corporate coffers.

KRON4 Asks Mike Danko About PG&E’s Bankruptcy Notice

Last week we filed a new lawsuit setting forth our latest evidence that it was a PG&E equipment failure — in particular the failure of a piece of hardware that secured an insulator on PG&E’s 100 year-old transmission tower near the Poe dam — that started the Camp Fire.  As discussed in this post, the lawsuit was covered by both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chico-Enterprise Record.  While PG&E was still claiming that it was too soon to say what caused the fire, our lawsuit zeroed in on the exact source of the ignition.

Now PG&E all but admits that our allegations are true.  Mirroring our filing, PG&E just announced publicly that “A suspension insulator supporting a transposition jumper had separated from an arm on the tower” and that a “c hook” used to support the insulator broke away, allowing an electrified wire to contact the metal tower.

Of course, as we told the Chico-Enterprise Record, if PG&E had properly installed, maintained, and inspected its hardware, it would not have failed in the winds of November 8, and the fire beneath the tower never would have started. Still waiting for PG&E to admit that part of our suit.