PG&E profits shrink because of costs linked to wildfires, bankruptcy
PG&E posted profits of $136 million during the first three months of 2019, a period that included the start of bankruptcy proceedings for PG&E, the disgraced power company reported Thursday.
The first-quarter earnings, however, plunged 69% from the same January-through-March period the year before, when the company earned $445 million, PG&E said.
“Enhanced and accelerated electric asset inspection costs, clean-up and repair costs related to the 2018 Camp Fire, legal and other costs related to the 2017 Northern California wildfires and the 2018 Camp Fire, and financing, legal, and other costs” were among the factors that eroded PG&E’s profits, the company stated.
Costs related to PG&E’s bankruptcy filing on Jan. 29 also chewed up profit levels, PG&E said.
PG&E said revenues totaled $4.01 billion in the first quarter, down 1.1% from the year-ago first quarter.
Electricity operations generated $2.79 billion in revenue in the first three months of 2019, a 5.4% decrease from the year before.
Gas system operations in the 2019 first quarter produced $1.22 billion in revenue, an increase of 10.3% from the first three months of 2018.
PG&E’s equipment caused, or was directly connected to, a string of fatal wildfire catastrophes in 2015, 2017 and 2018. These disasters include some of the October 2017 infernos that scorched the North Bay Wine Country and nearby regions and a wildfire, officially known as the Camp Fire, that roared through Butte County in November 2018 and essentially destroyed the town of Paradise.
In 2016, PG&E became a convicted felon when a federal jury found the utility guilty of crimes it committed before and after a fatal explosion of a natural gas pipeline in San Bruno that killed eight people.
PG&E incurred $192 million in costs from the Camp Fire during the quarter, including $179 million for cleanup and repair costs and $13 million for legal costs and other expenses.
The company also endured $127 million in costs related to its bankruptcy.