Following its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in January, PG&E (PCG) has now been ordered by a federal judge to use its dividend funds as part of its catastrophic wildfire reduction plan. The court order was issued Tuesday, preventing the California utility from reissuing dividends, instead turning its focus on reducing the risk of wildfires in Northern and Central California.

District Judge William Alsup issued the order and said he would keep a close eye on the utility to ensure it remained in compliance with the new wildfire prevention rules that have been issued. The new rules include tree trimming near powerlines, which PG&E previously said it did not have the manpower or funds for.

“A lot of money went out in dividends that should have went into tree trimming," Alsup said in the court hearing with the utility. “PG&E pumped out $4.5 billion in dividends and let the tree budge whither. So a lot of trees should've been take down that were not.”

The dividend stalemate was argued by PG&E as the company argued that it suspended payments in 2017 as well. A month earlier, Judge Alsup maintained that dividends would not occur without his permission and not until “all applicable vegetation management requirements” were met.

The order by Alsup comes after PG&E filed bankruptcy, and faces billions of dollars in liabilities for the 2018 Camp Fire.

PG&E was cleared in California’s 2017 Tubbs wildfire but has said that it is “probable” that its equipment was responsible for the 2018 Camp Fire. The Camp Fire is considered the deadliest wildfire to occur in California, killing 85 people and destroying 14,000 structures.

Judge Alsup also previously made a recommendation that PG&E complete a power grid inspection, which was not included in Tuesday’s order, NPR reported.

Shares of PG&E stock on Wednesday closed at $18.45, up 4.47 percent. 

PG&E Tree Trimming PG&E was ordered by a federal judge to focus on its catastrophic wildfire reduction plan in lieu of issuing dividends. PG&E workers work to repair power lines in the Coffey Park neighborhood following the damage caused by the Tubbs Fire on October 13, 2017 in Santa Rosa, California. Twenty four people have died in wildfires that have burned tens of thousands of acres and destroyed over 3,500 homes and businesses in several Northern California counties. Photo: Getty Images/Elijah Nouvelage