Utility regulators unanimously approved a measure Monday afternoon allowing Pacific Gas and Electric to obtain up to $6.1 billion in loans and credit if the company files for bankruptcy.
Protesters yelled "shame!" as commissioners voted at the raucous meeting.
The utility is still solvent, according to its most recent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. What it doesn't have access to is credit. As the amount of money PG&E could owe wildfire victims has grown, PG&E's credit rating has plunged.
If the utility files for bankruptcy, one of the first things it will probably do is ask a bankruptcy judge to approve $5 billion in financing to allow the company to continue operations. The California Public Utilities Commission voted today to say that it approves of that financing.
Without “timely” bankruptcy financing, “this Commission faces a substantial risk that the public health and safety of California will be severely impaired,” wrote CPUC President Michael Picker in a filing proposing that the CPUC approve PG&E’s request.