PG&E Declares Bankruptcy And CEO Resigns

14 January, 2019, 19:14 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Employees of Pacific Gas & Electric work in the aftermath of the Camp Fire in Paradise

The Board of Directors has named John Simon Interim CEO.

Pacific Gas and Electric said last month it determined weather conditions were no longer unsafe enough to warrant a massive power shut off on November 8 - a decision that came as a massive fire was tearing through a Northern California town.

The departure of Williams, 57, was announced Sunday, hours before the company said it was notifying workers it could file for bankruptcy within weeks.

California's largest utility company said on Sunday its chief executive had resigned as the firm faces billions of dollars in potential liabilities tied to the state's deadly and destructive wildfires past year.

PG&E, which serves 15 million Californians - nearly 40% of the population of the state - warned then it could face "significant liability" beyond its insured amount if its equipment was found to have caused the fire.

The announcement on Monday followed the resignation of the power company's chief executive, Geisha Williams, who had been had the helm for less than two years.

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PG&E's financial woes have already spread to the companies that supply its natural gas and generate electricity for its customers.

It went on to say that a Chapter 11 reorganisation was the only viable option for meeting these goals.

The company said Monday that it has only about $1.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand. PG&E kept the lights on during the three years it spent in Chapter 11 between 2001 and 2004, when it was clobbered by rising power costs during the energy crisis. That blaze killed at least 86 people, destroyed 14,000 homes and leveled Paradise, a city of 27,000 residents.

The survivors who are suing PG&E will now become unsecured creditors, along with investors holding billions in PG&E debt. "The ratepayers are the last priority".

The company's shares tumbled 55 per cent in early trading. Shares were trading at almost $50 before the company disclosed that a faulty transmission tower may have caused the Camp Fire. It is uncertain whether such a move would occur in bankruptcy court. PG&E remains committed to assisting the communities affected by wildfires in Northern California, and its restoration and rebuilding efforts will continue. "We don't want to see venture capital firms buying it or parties that don't have experience and aren't going to put the public interest first".

It is believed the fire was started when a PG&E power line came in contact with nearby trees.

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