Wall St. J., Judge Threatens PG&E Dividend (Apr. 1, 2019)

A federal judge is threatening to prevent PG&E Corp. PCG 3.19% from resuming dividend payments to shareholders until it reduces its role in sparking California wildfires, an action with little precedent that could have big repercussions for other companies put on probation.

William Alsup, a U.S. district court judge in Northern California, began overseeing PG&E’s probation after the utility company was convicted of safety-related violations following a natural-gas explosion that killed eight people in 2010. …

The company, which sought chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, pushed back, responding that such an imposition could spook investors and limit its access to capital after it restructures in court. It emphasized that it has taken steps to improve its vegetation management practices in recent years and will continue to do so. …

An avid hiker whose California nature photographs hang in the federal courthouse in San Francisco, Judge Alsup has become a vocal critic of PG&E’s wildfire response.