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California’s Largest Utility Plans Bankruptcy As CEO Makes For The Exit

14 January 2019

The company's intent to file voluntary bankruptcy proceedings on or about January 29 came in a one paragraph statement.

PG&E shares quickly fell $8.20, to $9.39, in early morning New York Stock Exchange trading. It would allow the company to continue operating during Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings.

The company has seen two-thirds of its market value wiped out since November's Camp Fire - the deadliest wildfire in California's history.

Support for PG&E's management eroded even further in December when state regulators accused the utility of falsifying records related to locating and marking underground gas lines from 2012 through 2017 _ years in which the company was trying to convince the public that it had cleaned up its act after a 2010 pipeline blast that killed eight in San Bruno, California. It has access to about $1.5 billion in existing cash.

The Company does not expect any impact to electric or natural gas service for its customers as a result of the Chapter 11 process.

It said it believes bankruptcy is "appropriate, necessary and in the best interests of all stakeholders, including wildfire claimants", as well as other creditors, its shareholders and customers. The company said it would look to hire a new chief executive with "extensive operational and safety expertise". During her tenure at the helm of the San Francisco-based utility, it accrued more than $30 billion in potential wildfire liabilities, according to analyst estimates. In a PG&E report last month, the company outlined how employees discovered damaged power towers minutes before the Camp Fire broke out. "Everyone's immediate focus is, rightfully, on ensuring Californians have continuous, reliable and safe electric and gas service".

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a statement to KTVU the company should continue to "honor promises made to energy suppliers and to our community".

Geisha Williams announced her resignation from PG&E amid growing concerns over the company's role in the devastating Camp Fire, which killed at least 86 people and destroyed more than 18,800 homes and buildings. The board of directors chose John Simon as interim CEO.

"While we are making progress as a company in safety and other areas, the board recognizes the tremendous challenges PG&E continues to face", PG&E board chairman Richard Kelly said in a statement Sunday, according to WSJ. In 2017, she became the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

California’s Largest Utility Plans Bankruptcy As CEO Makes For The Exit