When PG&E regroups, some fear environmental consequences

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As Pacific Gas & Electric Co. attempts to reorganize in federal bankruptcy court, some environmentalists and California officials claim the company's division of its hydropower plants and surrounding watershed lands into limited liability corporations (LLCs) will result in widespread environmental damage. Under PG&E's current organization, it protects its 140,000 acres of watershed and timberlands by transferring the costs to the consumer. However, if divided into separate LLCs, the costs would be borne by shareholders. "In the past PG&E passed on environmental costs to their ratepayers," said Stephen Wald, coordinator of the California Hydropower Reform Coalition. "That is the sole reason their lands are in such good condition right now. But if the company transitions to this new structure, the costs of any environmental improvement will come out of shareholders' pockets. The LLCs will fight that vigorously."

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