More than a dozen local governments and other public entities in Northern California will soon share a $1 billion payment from the public utility that's blamed for three years' worth of wildfires there. KCRA and NPR report the settlement from Pacific Gas and Electric was announced Tuesday, with the money set to cover "taxpayer losses" for the 2015 Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties, the 2017 North Bay fires in Sonoma and Napa counties, the 2017 Cascade Fire in Yuba County, and last year's Camp Fire in Butte County. More than $300 million alone will be allotted to entities in Paradise, whose 26,000 population dwindled to less than 3,000 after it was swept by flames from the Camp Fire.
"This is an important first step toward an orderly, fair, and expeditious resolution of wildfire claims and a demonstration of our willingness to work collaboratively with stakeholders to achieve mutually acceptable resolutions," PG&E says in a statement. The wildfires were said to have been sparked by the company's equipment. The settlement still must get the green light from a bankruptcy court, as PG&E filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. ABC7 notes it's still not clear if shareholders or ratepayers will assume the burden for the settlement. The company may have to pay out still more to settle claims from businesses and individuals. (Read more California wildfires stories.)