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Report: PG&E Corp. considers selling gas utility amid wildfire liability tumult


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Report: PG&E Corp. considers selling gas utility amid wildfire liability tumult

Facing the potential of steeply rising wildfire liabilities, PG&E Corp. is considering selling off its gas utility business in the spring, National Public Radio reported Jan. 4, citing current and former PG&E Corp. officials speaking anonymously.

The company internally named the potential strategic move Project Falcon and is contemplating using the proceeds from such a sale to help cover costs associated with extensive wildfire damage, NPR reported.

The Camp Fire had claimed 86 lives as of Dec. 30, 2018, and destroyed 13,972 residences, 528 commercial buildings and 4,293 other buildings, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. The fire's cause has not been officially determined, but the potential role of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is under investigation.

The PG&E Corp. board announced Jan. 4 that it is "making changes to reinforce the company's commitment to safety and improvement." Included among those changes is a review of "structural options" that would allow the company to best meet its customer and operational needs. The board said in a statement that it was considering ways to address the "changing nature" of the company's businesses and challenges.

"In addition to prior actions taken to confront the growing wildfire threat, the board is actively assessing PG&E's operations, finances, management, structure and governance — and remains focused on improving safety and operational effectiveness," the Jan. 4 statement said.

Three major insurance companies — Allstate Corp., State Farm and USAA — have filed lawsuits against the utility, arguing that the company exposed them to billions of dollars in claims by failing to properly maintain power transmission lines and other infrastructure to prevent fires.