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John J. Rapisardi and Daniel Shamah

PG&E Corporation (“Holdco”) and its subsidiary, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (the “Utility” and together with Holdco, “PG&E”) announced on Jan. 13, 2019 that it expects to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on or around Jan. 29, 2019, right around the conclusion of a mandatory 15-day notice requirement under California law. See Form 8-K of PG&E Corp. and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (Jan. 13, 2019). Such a filing would represent the second time PG&E resorted to protection under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. PG&E filed for bankruptcy on April 6, 2001 and emerged three years later, on April 12, 2004. See Case No. 01-30923-DM (Bankr. N.D. Cal.). The challenges PG&E has faced since wildfires began consuming large swaths of California are well-known and has fueled speculation about a bankruptcy filing. But less well-understood and appreciated are the legal and regulatory issues confronting PG&E and other similarly-situated California utilities. As we’ll see, those legal and regulatory issues present critical complications in a potential second PG&E bankruptcy.

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