Protests erupt as the California PUC decides the financial fate of PG&E

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A plan for new financing won approval during an emergency session of the California Public Utilities Commission.

The decision clears a major hurdle for PG&E now on its way to declaring bankruptcy.

According to Fresno Assemblyman Jim Patterson, who is vice-chair of the Assembly Utility and Energy Committee, PG&E's Board of Directors voted Monday night to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at midnight.

Action News has yet to confirm this information with the power company.

The state PUC's decision did not come without opposition from protesters who stood inside the meeting in San Francisco -- denouncing and repeatedly speaking over commissioners on the panel.

They were loud. They were vocal, and they were clear.

Holding signs that read, "No PG&E Bailout."

Moments before commissioners prepared to cast a major vote.

The important question at the center of the table: should the state PUC allow PG&E to borrow up to $6 billion to pay for operations during its expected Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

RELATED: California wildfire damages top $11.4 billion for 2018

"This is going to allow if PG&E decides to file for bankruptcy the continuation of the lights being on and the continuation of the workforce," said California CPU Commissioner Martha Guzma Aceves.

Protesters even stood behind the podium, during public comment, reading the names of the 86 victims who died during last year's Camp Fire.

Each name was echoed by the other protesters inside as many outside expressed their frustration.

"What we need is a public agency a public takeover of these monopoly utilities that's what we need that's the only way we are going to have utilities that are accountable to the people over profits," said Jessica Tovar with Clean Energy Alliance.

Meantime back inside, efforts to interrupt the vote failed.

Four members said "Yes" to passing the measure that would allow PG&E to move forward with bankruptcy now that the financing is in place.

The utility company estimates its liabilities from the 2017 and 2018 wildfires in Northern California will exceed $30 billion.

In a statement released after Monday's vote PG&E says in part:

"The DIP financing provides the funds needed to continue operating our business and to continue investing in our systems, infrastructure and wildfire mitigation initiative throughout the Chapter 11 process."
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