A bankruptcy judge approved a slew of interim motions Thursday that will allow PG&E to continue operating normally as its bankruptcy protection case proceeds, including allowing the company to secure emergency financing and to keep paying its employees.
But the utility's lawyer, Stephen Karotkin, did not yet ask U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali to approve some $130 million in employee bonuses to 14,000 employees -- and said even when PG&E brings those bonuses before the court, they will not include compensation for executives or other high-level company leaders.
"The employees, and there are 24,000 of them, make this operation run and it's important that we pay them their compensation," Karotkin told Montali. "We are not asking for any authority to pay severance to insiders."
Those 38 insiders -- or executives -- include former PG&E CEO Geisha Williams, who resigned Jan. 13, shortly before the utility announced it would file for bankruptcy. She was awarded $2.5 million upon her departure, but the money has apparently not been paid to her yet.
Thursday was PG&E's first substantive hearing since the utility filed for bankruptcy protection early Tuesday. The utility, California's largest, argues that it is facing such massive liabilities from fires it started in recent years that it can no longer secure the financing it needs to continue service to its 16 million customers.