Federal officials are prepared to bill wildfire victims for a portion of the nearly $4 billion the government says it’s owed by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., if the debt isn’t resolved as part of the utility’s bankruptcy case, according to a newspaper report Sunday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked for reimbursement from PG&E to cover costs from the government’s response to destructive fires in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Under PG&E’s current plan to resolve its bankruptcy, any payment to FEMA would have to come from the $13.5 billion the utility intends to reserve primarily to settle claims from wildfire victims, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Victims’ lawyers are fighting FEMA’s claim, which would take up nearly 30% of the settlement. But FEMA told the Chronicle it is compelled to seek compensation from PG&E. Otherwise, individual victims would be responsible if they get settlement funds that duplicate money already paid by the federal government, according to Bob Fenton, the agency’s regional administrator.