Pacific Gas & Electric looking to sell off its natural gas division as early as this spring to cover possible wildfire payouts, NPR reports

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Saturday, January 5, 2019
Report: PG&E looking to sell off its natural gas division
Pacific Gas & Electric is exploring the sale of its natural gas division to cover potentially massive wildfire liability costs and to avoid bankruptcy.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is reportedly looking to sell off its natural gas division as early as this spring.

NPR reports that the utility company is exploring the sale as a way to cover liability costs and avoid bankruptcy, citing a senior company official and a former employee with knowledge of the plan.

The strategy, called "Project Falcon" would have PG&E sell its natural gas division and use all proceeds from the sale to set up a fund to pay billions of dollars in potential claims from wildfires. The company is also reportedly looking at selling real estate assets, including its San Francisco headquarters.

Cal Fire investigators found that PG&E equipment was connected to 12 wildfires across Northern California in 2017, and PG&E equipment may be responsible for igniting the Camp Fire, the most deadly and destructive wildfire in California's history.

RELATED: Pacific Gas & Electric says it had a problem with electric line near Paradise minutes before Camp Fire started

Several insurance companies have already filed lawsuits blaming PG&E for the Camp Fire, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has said that the company could face criminal charges if it is found responsible for the wildfire.

RELATED: PG&E reportedly could face murder charges for deadly Camp Fire

PG&E is one of the nation's largest electric utilities with more than 5 million customers in Northern and Central California.

The sale of the company's natural gas division would need to be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

In a statement to NPR, a company spokesperson said "PG&E does not comment on market rumors or speculation. As a company, our priority continues to be the safety of our customers and the communities we serve."