PG&E Declares Bankruptcy And CEO Resigns

PG&E Bankruptcy Filing Looming

The company's board made a decision to oust CEO Geisha Williams and undergo a restructuring at a board meeting this weekend in San Francisco, according to a source familiar with the matter.

It also said it "remains committed to continuing to make investments in system safety as it works with regulators, policymakers and other key stakeholders to consider a range of alternatives to provide for the safe delivery of natural gas and electric service for the long term in an environment that continues to be challenges by climate change". Bankruptcy law expert Jared Ellias, of UC Hastings College of Law in San Francisco, said that means it's less likely the survivors will get 100 percent payment on their claims for damages.

If it seeks bankruptcy protection, the new money could prove critical for PG&E, which spends roughly $6 billion annually serving millions of electric and natural gas customers in California. Investigators are looking closely at whether PG&E's equipment ignited the Camp Fire, the deadliest fire in California history. Under California law, utilities are exposed to liability from wildfires regardless of their negligence.

Shares plunged by 50 per cent before the opening bell. Restoration and rebuilding efforts will continue, the company said.

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Williams was CEO for less than two years, but she had been with PG&E since 2007.

Many PG&E customers live near dry forests where rain has become increasingly rare - conditions for potential future blazes.

The company has already told investors it doesn't have enough insurance to handle the expected billions in wildfire liabilities.

The cause of the Camp Fire is still under investigation, according to state fire officials. That blaze killed at least 86 people, destroyed 14,000 homes and leveled Paradise, a city of 27,000 residents.

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PG&E faces widespread litigation, government investigations and liabilities that could potentially reach $30 billion, according to the company, accounting for damage from fires a year ago and in 2017.

In recent weeks PG&E has pledged to upgrade fire safety by trimming trees more aggressively, installing hundreds of remote cameras to detect fires, and taking other steps. One of the most exposed is Kinder Morgan Inc KMI.N, the second largest North American pipeline operator, analysts said. He is replacing former CEO Geisha Williams, who resigned from both the holding company and the utility.

The plans have not been finalized and the communication could come later, the source said.

PG&E issued a press release Sunday about changes in their leadership structure, naming John Simon as the Interim Chief Executive Officer. A notice to employees about a pending bankruptcy could potentially dry up PG&E's access to capital.

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