PG&E to declare bankruptcy

Employees of Pacific Gas & Electric work in the aftermath of the Camp Fire in Paradise

On Sunday, the company started searching for a new leader after Geisha Williams, 57, quit as CEO.

PG&E said Monday that Williams will receive severance. 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.

PG&E has already asked state regulators for a $1 billion rate hike, beginning in 2020, to help cover the increased costs of improving its fire safety.

It went on to say that a Chapter 11 reorganisation was the only viable option for meeting these goals. PG&E remains committed to assisting the communities affected by wildfires in Northern California, and its restoration and rebuilding efforts will continue.

Fire officials have not yet officially said what caused the blaze, but have focused on power equipment. It would allow the company to continue operating during Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings. It also puts pressure on California's new governor, Gavin Newsom, and legislators to come up with a plan that could keep the utility solvent.

The full press release from PG&E can be found on its website.

The company, in a public filing, cited at least $7 billion in claims from the Camp Fire.


"PG&E provides gas and electric service to 16 million Californians", he said in the statement.

The departure of Williams - one of the world's most powerful women in business - thins the ranks of the roughly two dozen women running S&P 500 companies.

PG&E said on Sunday its chief executive officer was leaving and being replaced by General Counsel John Simon on an interim basis. "I value the opportunity I've had to lead PG&E and wish all of my colleagues well". 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.

The company does not expect bankruptcy to interfere with providing its customers with power and other services, the company said in a statement Monday.

"PG&E faces extensive litigation and significant potential liabilities resulting from these wildfires".

Firefighter Jose Corona sprays water as flames from the Camp Fire consume a home in Magalia, Calif., Nov. 9, 2018.

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.

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