The committee representing Northern California wildfire survivors wants participants to postpone voting on a $13.5 billion compensation deal with PG&E until May 1 — a hurdle that could jeopardize the utility's ability to exit bankruptcy in the coming months.
In a brief filed Monday in a federal bankruptcy court in San Francisco, the group — known as the Tort Claimants Committee (TCC), which represents victims of recent wildfires caused by PG&E's equipment — accused the massive utility of changing the terms of the plan that the two parties had brokered in December.
Half of the settlement is set to be paid into a victims' compensation trust as PG&E stock. The utility's shares — volatile even before the coronavirus pandemic rocked U.S. markets — have now lost roughly half their value since mid-February.
The committee said PG&E has refused to guarantee that the $6.75 billion in stock issued to the trust will actually retain its value, even as the company has recently raised its debt load by $3.7 billion more than what the settlement called for — a factor that could decrease stock value.
"The coronavirus worldwide tragedy is devaluing the [claimants'] share of PG&E’s equity at an amount lower than the $6.75 billion value," Elizabeth Green, an attorney with the firm BakerHostetler, wrote on behalf of the committee.