Tuesday, September 4, 2018 - 08:00

California lawmakers passed legislation to help utility giant PG&E Corp. pay for billions of dollars in potential liabilities from wildfires that ravaged Northern California wine country last year.

The state Assembly and Senate approved a wide-ranging plan Friday that includes directing regulators to limit how much PG&E shareholders would cover from the 2017 fires that killed dozens of people. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown, who has supported helping PG&E dodge fiscal distress.

The move is a key victory for PG&E, which may owe as much as $17.3 billion from the blazes. The utility owner raised the prospect of bankruptcy as it lobbied lawmakers for help and has lost more than $11 billion in market value in the last year. While the bill doesn’t go as far as PG&E wanted toward alleviating its liabilities, it could help ease Wall Street’s concerns.

The bill “is a common-sense solution that puts the needs of wildfire victims first, better equips California to prevent and respond to wildfires, protects electric customers and preserves progress toward California’s clean energy goals,” PG&E said in a statement.

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