PG&E agrees to pay $1B to California towns hit by wildfires

Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has agreed to pay the town of Paradise, Calif., its Butte County, and other counties in Northern California a combined $1 billion in a settlement for wildfires caused by the company.

Paradise will receive $270 million and Butte County, where it is located, will receive $252 million in the deal announced Tuesday, according to the Sacramento Bee. The areas were struck by the wildfire known as the Camp Fire last year, which killed 85 people.

A Cal Fire report from May faulted the utility company's equipment for the wildfire. PG&E said it also reached settlements over fires in 2015 and 2017, according to the Bee. The agreement has to be approved by a bankruptcy judge in charge of PG&E's case. 

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In a statement reported by the Bee, PG&E said it is still “focused on supporting our customers and communities impacted by wildfires and helping them recover and rebuild,” and said the agreements are “an important first step toward an orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of wildfire claims.”

“Our goal...is to work collaboratively to fairly balance the interests of our many stakeholders, as well as the customers and communities we serve, as we work toward a timely resolution of our case, while continuing to provide the safe and reliable natural gas and electric service that our customers expect and deserve,” company officials said. 

The settlement included 14 cities and counties in the northern part of the state. 

Paradise Mayor Jody Jones told the newspaper in a statement that she found the settlement fair. 

“The town of Paradise will rebuild and this is an important step toward our recovery,” she said in a statement to the newspaper.

She added that she hopes the town gets the money “as soon as possible so we can put it toward rebuilding our infrastructure.“