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PG&E Had Rescue Options. Here's Why It Chose Bankruptcy Instead

  • Utility giant’s assets top liabilities, but big costs loom
  • Financing packages seen unlikely to address long-term issues
A Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) truck sits on a roadway in Paradise, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019.
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

PG&E Corp.’s descent into bankruptcy came even though the company isn’t broke.

Its Pacific Gas & Electric utility serves 16 million people -- more than 40 percent of California’s population -- and pulls in $17 billion in revenue per year. The steady flow of monthly customer payments, plus a regulated rate of return on its power lines and poles, gives PG&E the kind of stable, predictable income many businesses can only envy. It has about $240 million in cash on hand, though that number has been quickly falling.