Wildfire Victims Must File Claims Against PG&E By Oct. 21, Judge Says

 Friday, June 28, 2019

 San Francisco Chronicle

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will soon kick off a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign letting wildfire victims know they have less than four months to ask the utility for payment as part of its bankruptcy case.

The utility must conduct the extensive outreach effort because U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali on Wednesday set Oct. 21 as the deadline for people to file a form stating they have a claim against PG&E. Claims must originate from before Jan. 29, when PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection because of an increasingly dire crisis posed by wildfires its power lines had caused.

At the time of its filing, PG&E pegged its wildfire liabilities at about $30 billion, but that figure was an estimate. The deadline set by Montali provides a path to determine the true extent of the claims PG&E faces because of its role in recent disasters, including last year’s Camp Fire that state officials say the company’s equipment started.

Attorneys for PG&E say the media blitz about the deadline will feature numerous advertisements in national and local newspapers —The Chronicle among them — as well as similar messages on television and radio stations in the coming months. The utility also intends to run notices on social media and elsewhere through the internet.

PG&E’s advertisements will complement direct communications to wildfire victims and customers telling them about the deadline to file evidence of their claims for payment as part of the bankruptcy proceedings. Court papers indicate the outreach will cost about $2.5 million.

It’s all part of what PG&E believes is an unusually thorough plan to invite claims from people who think the utility owes them money, though lawyers for fire victims had wanted the deadline set later and argued for even more public outreach.

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