Published: Mon, January 14, 2019
Finance | By Loren Pratt

USA wildfires push energy firm PG&E to bankruptcy protection

USA wildfires push energy firm PG&E to bankruptcy protection

PG&E is searching for a new CEO after Geisha Williams stepped down from her position, the company announced on Sunday.

The company will file for bankruptcy around January 29, giving its employees a 15-day notice in line with California law, Reuters reports. PG&E general counsel John Simon will take the helm in the meantime.

The company's deepening financial crisis has forced California regulators and policy makers to consider a bailout package and PG&E is weighing whether to file for bankruptcy.

PG&E Corp, the biggest US power utility, said on Monday it is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for all of its businesses as it faces potentially crushing liabilities linked to catastrophic wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

"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 Chairman Richard Kelly said Sunday.

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

PG&E said they do not expect the move to effect electric or natural gas service for its customers as a result of the proceedings.

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

PG&E could be on the hook for tens of billions of dollars for its potential role in California's devastating Camp Fire a year ago - the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state's history. Three months later, however, the utility's equipment again was being looked at as a possible source of the Camp Fire, which killed 86 people and destroyed the town of Paradise.

As crews continue to search for victims for the devastating Camp Fire, a political firestorm is brewing over whether climate change or resource mismanagement is to blame; Bob Deans, director of strategic engagement at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Jonathan Wood, Pacific Legal Foundation attorney, join the debate.

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