PG&E Says $150 Billion Could Be Price Tag of a Judge's Fire Plan

(Bloomberg) -- PG&E Corp. estimates it would cost as much as $150 billion this year alone to comply with a federal judge’s extraordinary fire-safety proposal.

The figure would be about five times as much as PG&E’s forecast liabilities for wildfires that scorched the state in 2017 and 2018. The estimate was included in PG&E’s response Wednesday to a call by U.S. District Judge William Alsup for the utility to trim tree branches and inspect and repair thousands of miles of power lines or cut local electricity supply to prevent wildfires.

If the company were to try to fund the effort itself, it would need to increase customer bills to more than five times current rates. And that would just raise $75 billion, the low end of its range of estimated costs. PG&E said the proposal would require the removal of 100 million trees and the labor of 650,000 full-time employees to meet a deadline of June 21.

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