May 3, 2019 / 7:13 PM / 20 days ago

PG&E unable to strike deal over renewable power contracts: court documents

FILE PHOTO: A PG&E truck carrying an American Flag drives past PG&E repair trucks in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

(Reuters) - PG&E Corp was unable to reach a deal with NextEra Energy Inc and other companies with which it has billions of dollars in power contracts in a jurisdictional dispute over the bankrupt utility’s ability to walk away from or amend those agreements, according to court documents.

The matter will now be decided by the judge overseeing PG&E’s bankruptcy “in the coming weeks,” according to the documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Friday.

At issue is whether the bankruptcy court or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has jurisdiction over the power purchase contracts, which are worth up to $42 billion.

San Francisco-based PG&E wants the matter resolved in bankruptcy court, while NextEra and others want FERC involved. FERC has said it has “concurrent jurisdiction” with the bankruptcy court in such matters.

The contracts have emerged as one of the most contentious issues in PG&E’s bankruptcy, which the company launched in January in the face of tens of billions of dollars in potential liability stemming from wildfires in California in recent years that may be traced to its equipment.

The question of what will happen to the power contracts is critical for California’s goal to source 60% of its power from sources of renewable energy by 2030. Most of the power contracts in question are for solar or wind resources to fulfill the state mandate.

“PG&E recognizes its important role in supporting the state’s commitment to clean energy initiatives and remains committed to continuing to help California achieve its bold clean energy goals,” the company said in an emailed statement.

“We appreciate the concerns from stakeholders across the state concerning the impact that Chapter 11 filing could have on the state’s clean energy progress. PG&E has made no decisions as to whether to assume or reject contracts as part of filing for Chapter 11.”

Officials from NextEra were not immediately available for comment.Last month, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali urged the companies and PG&E to try to reach an agreement by a May 3 deadline. In the court papers made public on Friday, they said they were unable to reach an agreement.

Reporting by Nichola Groom in Los Angeles and Jim Christie in San Francisco; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Richard Chang

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