California plan would let utilities bond out wildfire debt
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California utilities could sell bonds and pass on the cost to their customers to help cover debt incurred when their equipment starts wildfires under a new legislative proposal.
The proposal is part of a wide-ranging plan outlined Friday to help shield utilities from bankruptcy and better prepare the state to deal with massive wildfires. The plan still needs legislative approval but Republicans and Democrats appear to be on board.
Pacific Gas & Electric expects to pay billions of dollars related to lawsuits after wildfires through Northern California last fall. California law holds utilities almost entirely liable for damage sparked by their equipment even when the utilities follow all safety rules.
Lawmakers say allowing utilities to finance their debt will guard against rate spikes and excessive utility bills.