Some customers confused by PG&E letter about its bankruptcy

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
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If you're a PG&E customer, the odds are real good your household received a letter from PG&E attorneys. No, you're not in trouble.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- If you're a PG&E customer, the odds are real good your household received a letter from PG&E attorneys. No, you're not in trouble.

The letter is tied to PG&E's bankruptcy filing back in January. With 6 million customers receiving this letter, it's no wonder many are left asking if the letter applies to them.

Mark Toney received two of the letters: one at his home and another at his office where he serves as executive director of TURN -- a consumer group that advocates for consumer's energy needs.

His office has received numerous inquiries from PG&E customers mystified by what the letter is all about.

"We've had dozens of people call the office and people who happen to know me ask me directly, what does this notice mean?" Toney said.

Toney points out the letter doesn't actually come from the utility, but it comes from the company's bankruptcy attorneys. He says it reads more like a legal document because that's what it really is.

Iain MacDonald is a bankruptcy attorney not affiliated with PG&E.

"It's a confusing letter when you first get it, you have to read it all very carefully," MacDonald said.

The bottom line: if you have a claim against PG&E, you have to file it before the deadline October 21. Anything submitted after that likely won't get paid.

So who needs to worry about this letter?

Let's start with who doesn't need to worry.

"People who do not have to file a claim right off the top, customers, you don't have to file a claim if it's something arising out of your customer relationship like a refund, a billing dispute," MacDonald advised.

Diane Howe of San Rafael wrote 7 On Your Side and asked, "I'm confused and hoping you can explain. I can't tell if shareholders need to file a claim."

MacDonald says the answer is no.

"A stock is not a claim for money," he said. "A stock is an ownership interest in the company and that will be dealt with later."

So who does need to file a claim?

First and foremost are fire victims, or anyone with even non-fire related damage that they are blaming on PG&E -- even if you already filed a lawsuit.

If you're not sure, both MacDonald and Toney say protect yourself by filing a claim form. So far 3,700 claims have been filed against PG&E.

The utility tells us, "We remain focused on compensating fire victims as quickly as possible, further reducing wildfire risk."

Customers can also visit this page for more information.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.