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What Happens If PG&E Files for Bankruptcy?


By Greg Zimmerman Energy Efficiency
Pacific Gas and Electric Company logo

The one thing every facility manager expects 100 percent of the time is that when occupants flip a light switch, there is power to turn on the lights. But what would happens if there isn’t?

Because of liabilities from two years of hugely destructive California wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is considering filing bankruptcy, according to The New York Times. The utility faces about $30 billion in damages.

But the issue seems less that PG&E can keep the power on and more about the way the utility’s bankruptcy would affect third-party companies that provide power to PG&E, include via solar. The utility would try to revoke or renegotiate contracts.

A credit-rating agency already has downgraded the debt of one company that provides solar power to PG&E, Topaz Solar Farms, based on the possibility of less revenue. If PG&E files for bankruptcy, it will be the utility’s second such action in 20 years. It filed in 2001 after a “bungled deregulation” of the utility sector, according to the Times.

Greg Zimmerman is executive editor of Building Operating Management. Read his cover story on how buildings are tackling climate change.

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