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The Latest: Bankruptcy judge allows PG&E to make $1.5B loan

February 1, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The Latest on a court hearing on Pacific Gas & Electric Corp.’s bankruptcy (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

A U.S. bankruptcy judge is allowing Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. to borrow $1.5 billion that the company says it needs to continue its operations.

At a hearing Thursday in San Francisco, Judge Dennis Montali approved the company’s request for funding despite an objection that PG&E hadn’t shown it urgently needs the financing.

PG&E sought bankruptcy protection earlier in the week in the face of billions of dollars in potential damages from catastrophic wildfires in California in 2017 and 2018.

Attorneys for wildfire victims urged Montali to prioritize their client’s claims.

An attorney for PG&E, Stephen Karotkin, said PG&E wants to establish a trust fund to resolve all lawsuits from wildfire victims.

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2 p.m.

Attorneys for wildfire victims suing Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. urged a U.S. bankruptcy judge to prioritize the claims of wildfire victims.

Frank Pitre, who represents victims of wildfires in 2017 and 2018, said at a hearing Thursday that the process needs to move urgently because some victims are facing the possibility of becoming homeless without a settlement.

Legal experts say wildfire victims could receive less money in payouts in bankruptcy court than they would in civil court proceedings.

PG&E has filed for Chapter 11 reorganization to deal with roughly 1,000 lawsuits and potentially tens of billions of dollars in claims over devastating blazes in California

An attorney for PG&E, Stephen Karotkin, said PG&E wants to establish a trust fund to resolve all lawsuits from wildfire victims.

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11:45 a.m.

An attorney for Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. says its goal in its bankruptcy case is to establish a trust fund to resolve all lawsuits from wildfire victims.

Lawyer Stephen Karotkin said at a hearing Thursday that the fund could be financed in various ways and would expedite payments to families affected by wildfires.

Legal experts say wildfire victims could receive less money in payouts in bankruptcy court.

Karotkin said PG&E did not file for bankruptcy to avoid potential responsibility for California wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

He said Chapter 11 was the only way the company could restore financial stability, address wildfire claims fairly and continue providing reliable electric and gas service.

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