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(Reuters) – PG&E Corp’s chances of emerging from bankruptcy proceedings hinge in part on an arcane California legal rule that threatens to keep the utility owner perpetually on the hook for liabilities from catastrophic wildfires even beyond the more than $30 billion the company expects to face from recent blazes. The doctrine, known as “inverse condemnation,” exposes California utilities to liabilities from wildfires regardless of their negligence, as long as their equipment is involved 24k gold cufflinks.
That legal rule could keep PG&E exposed to additional liabilities from future fires and leave the company stuck in bankruptcy limbo, according to restructuring experts and people familiar with the matter 24k gold cufflinks. PG&E on Monday said it was preparing to seek bankruptcy protection as soon as this month amid pressure from potentially staggering liabilities related to wildfires in 2017 and 2018. The most recent blaze engulfed the California mountain community of Paradise, destroying homes and killing at least 86 people in the most destructive wildfire in state history..
Once PG&E files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, creditors can no longer call loans or demand interest payments, lawsuits are paused, and other claimants have to get in line and be subject to the reorganization plan that the company develops. This could allow PG&E to settle disputes more effectively, and negotiate down its legal bill from the wildfires. PG&E is hoping it can exit bankruptcy in as little as two years, according to its advisers 24k gold cufflinks. It envisions no negative impact on its customers..
However, exiting bankruptcy could take longer if there are more wildfires while PG&E is in bankruptcy, a real threat given that climate change has turned the blazes into an annual occurrence 24k gold cufflinks. A bankruptcy judge could even refuse to approve PG&E’s reorganization and exit from court proceedings if the judge finds that inverse condemnation calls into question its future as a viable company, according to U.S. law. “Inverse condemnation is a state law but a bankruptcy judge is god,” said Robert McCullough, principal at energy consulting firm McCullough Research in Portland, Oregon, noting that PG&E faces widespread lawsuits. “He’s going to have to figure out, once he releases the company from bankruptcy, if it’s actually a viable entity.”..
Private companies generally are not subject to this law, though it varies state by state, McCullough said. California’s laws are more extreme than most, he said. In a regulatory filing on Monday, PG&E questioned whether it could continue to operate as a so-called investor-owned utility while being exposed to that risk. PG&E’s exposure to inverse condemnation represents a key issue the utility owner hopes to address should it seek bankruptcy protection, according to a person familiar with the matter 24k gold cufflinks.