PG&E Sees Billions More in Wildfire Costs in 2019

PG&E Sees Billions More in Wildfire Costs in 2019

PG&E Sees Billions More in Wildfire Costs in 2019

PG&E Corp., the bankrupt California utility giant, reported a $2.6 billion second-quarter loss and said it expects more charges this year tied to wildfires that devastated the state in 2017 and 2018.

PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2019 in the face of liabilities estimated at more than 30 billion dollars in connection with the catastrophic wildfires.

The utility's second-quarter loss included a $3.9 billion pre-tax charge, and its adjusted earnings of $1.10 per share beat analysts' estimates by 11 cents, according to a statement Friday.

PG&E works on power lines to fix damage caused by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018.

The major California utility company based in San Francisco, which serves almost 16 million people in Northern and Central California, attributed the Q2 loss in revenue to an additional 3.9 billion dollar charge claimed by victims of the 2017 Northern California wildfires and the 2018 Camp fire. That figure reflects a $1 billion settlement PG&E reached earlier this year to compensate more than a dozen California cities, counties and agencies for fire-related losses, as well as the company's efforts to settle other claims tied to fires sparked by its equipment.

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"Our primary focus areas are to further reduce the risk of wildfires in the communities we serve, to improve our safety and operational performance across the board, and to move expeditiously through the Chapter 11 process, which includes paying wildfire victims fairly and as soon as possible", said PG&E CEO Bill Johnson.

PG&E has for months been spending heavily to ramp up inspections and repairs in an effort to make its electric system safer ahead of wildfire season.

In May, state fire investigators determined that PG&E transmission lines caused the fire. On Thursday, two hedge funds disclosed that they're seeking to raise $15 billion of equity to bolster the company's plans to exit bankruptcy.

The company is considering issuing tax-exempt bonds to support the plan, people familiar with the matter have said. Revenue fell to $3.943 billion from $4.234 billion, below the FactSet consensus of $4.435 billion. Shares of PG&E, which have fallen 23% year to date, slipped 2.1% to $18.12 in Friday trading.

PG&E hasn't offered earnings guidance for the remainder of 2019, citing uncertainty associated with lawsuits and its restructuring effort.

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