According to a recent report by the L.A. Times, PG&E reached a $13.5 billion settlement with survivors of the California wildfires (which they caused) over the last few years.
This settlement stacks another $13.5 billion on top of the already existing agreements, including $1 billion to cities, counties, and other public utilities, and $11 billion to several insurance companies.
What do the survivors have to say about the recent PG&E Settlement?
Even though $13.5 billion sounds like a ton of money, most claimants have little to no idea how much money they will receive. There are over 50,000 total claimants (L.A. Times), and some seem to have significant doubts that they’ll receive enough money to start their lives up again. To quote a survivor of the Tubbs Fire, Suzanne Pasky-Fouts:
“I’m dumbfounded. Talk about a slap in the face. The very people who screwed us overthink we want a part in their company … It’s been a mind-boggling nightmare over incredible greed.” Suzzane Pasky-Fouts (quote from the L.A. Times)
Another survivor of the Tubbs Fire, John Pascoe, a 72-year-old artist, said:
“I’m still remembering daily all the stuff I lost. Photos going back to childhood … all my art and paintings. That loss can’t be replaced. I can’t be made whole for that.” – John Pascoe (quote from the L.A. Times)
What’s next for PG&E?
PG&E *desperately* wants to remain both financially viable and the primary provider of energy for Northern California. They still plan to complete Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, and their future doesn’t seem as threatened as it once did. The energy giant has also begun trying to sway public opinion in their favor by using language like:
“We want to help our customers, our neighbors and our friends in those impacted ares recover and rebuild after the tragic wildfires … With this important milestone now accomplished, we are focused on emerging from Chapter 11 as the utility of the future that our customers and communities expect and deserve.” – PG&E Chief Executive Bill Johnson (quote from the L.A. Times)
What’s next for survivors of the PG&E-caused California wildfires?
One of the ways PG&E may attempt to pay survivors without hurting their financial bottom line is by offering company stock instead of cash. While that may seem quite enticing, attorney Patrick McNicholas said that “accepting stock in PG&E would ensure that victims are compensated without liquidating the company, a scenario in which one would get paid.” (L.A. Times)
However, this doesn’t mean the fight is over. Survivors of the several PG&E-caused California wildfires still have a lot left to say, and several avenues of legal action to explore before the dust clears and settles.
“I don’t think there’s any relief that you can obtain by way of monetary compensation that comes close to making up for the loss of loved ones, of physical injury, of the loss of your property and possessions. However, in a civilized society, this is the way to send a message to corporate decision-makers that they must prevent this type of holocaust from happening in the future.” – Attorney Richard Bridgford of Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian (quote from the L.A. Times)