PG&E prof­its shrink be­cause of costs linked to wild­fires, bank­ruptcy

The Tribune (SLO) - - Local - BY GE­ORGE AVALOS

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.

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