PG&E can’t afford to pay out $2.55 billion to victims of the San Bruno gas line fire, the utility’s CEO said on Thursday, disputing an analyst’s estimate.

At a press conference, CEO Anthony Earley dismissed the figure, which, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, came from a consultant hired by the Public Utilities Commission.

The utility has no way to raise that much money, he said.

“As an investor would you give me money that I was going to turn around and have to give away with no possibility of A – getting a return on that or – B – even getting that money back?”

He said PG&E has set aside $200 million to cover fines related to the pipeline blast and fire that killed eight people in 2010.

The utility has already started paying some people affected by the accident, and a few details surfaced on Thursday, according to the San Mateo Times.

The newspaper reported that confidential documents inadvertently posted on the San Mateo County court website show PG&E agreed to pay $1.8 million to a teenage girl severely burned by the September 2010 blast, plus nearly $677,700 to cover her attorneys’ fees and $19,400 for medical expenses.

$200 Million? $2.55 Billion? PG&E Disputes What It Can Pay Victims 30 August,2012Peter Jon Shuler


Peter Jon Shuler

Peter is a general assignment reporter covering Northern California news for KQED’s daily radio newscasts. He reports on a wide range of stories from current court cases to San Jose city hall.

Since joining KQED in 1990, Peter has covered everything from the beginnings of the World Wide Web to the dot-com bust, from preserving Silicon Valley’s open space to the preservation of historic Valley landmarks.

Peter caught the radio bug at WAUS-FM while still a student at Andrews University in his home town of Berrien Springs, MI. He did local news and hosted a classical music program. Since then, he has pursued a variety of assignments, including production work at WBAI in New York and broadcasting to the English language community of Geneva, Switzerland via Radio 74.  Email:

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