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14 January 2019, 07:15 | Joann Bryant
PG&E Bankruptcy Filing Looming
Investigators have been probing whether the power giant's equipment ignited the fire, along with its potential liability for blazes that devastated Northern California's wine country in 2017 - costs that "could exceed US$30 billion", according to the filing.
Shares of PG&E (PCG ) plunged 55% in premarket trading following the filing. The California Public Utilities Commission is considering breaking up the power company. "We believe John is the right interim leader for the company while we work to identify a new CEO".
PG&E is facing lawsuits from the Camp Fire that occurred a year ago, as well as from a 2017 blaze.
In November, the most deadly fire in Californian history began in the town of Paradise, killing 86 people.
PG&E Corp.'s former Chief Executive Officer Geisha Williams will likely walk away with millions in cash after guiding California's biggest utility through a turbulent two years that may send it to bankruptcy court.
PG&E said it is in the process of lining up $5.5 billion in so-called "debtor-in-possession" financing to operate the company while in Chapter 11.
The company's board chose 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.
That would dwarf the US$1.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand as of Friday.
The Company does not expect any impact to electric or natural gas service for its customers as a result of the Chapter 11 process. Shares were trading at almost $50 before the company disclosed that a faulty transmission tower may have caused the Camp Fire.
Advisers said they expect it may take up to two years for the company to emerge from bankruptcy.
Board Chairman Richard Kelly said "a Chapter 11 reorganization for both the utility and PG&E Corporation represents the only viable option to address the company's responsibilities to its stakeholders".
That would bring up another concern for Northern California residents, many of whom haven't forgotten the San Bruno gas explosion that killed 8 people and leveled a neighborhood in 2010: Who would be their new gas company or companies, and would they be any better than PG&E?
The daughter of Cuban political refugees, Williams became the nation's first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company when she took over PG&E.
Gov. Gavin Newsom was quick to respond to the bankruptcy announcment, issuing a statement early Monday.
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