PG&E to File for Bankruptcy Amid Mounting Liabilities from CA Wildfires

California utility PG&E Corp. said Monday that it plans to file for bankruptcy over what it estimates could be $30 billion in potential liability costs from recent wildfires. Here transmission towers in a valley near Paradise Calif. as the Camp Fire

As the company potentially faces billions of dollars in liabilities for involvement in California wildfires, PG&E announced Sunday it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Also, authorities are still investigating the cause of a blaze that destroyed thousands of homes and killed 22 people in Santa Rosa past year. The company could face murder charges if found responsible for starting the Camp Fire, and it is already facing numerous lawsuits.

As for what may happen with rates for gas and electricity, PG&E spokesperson Lynsey Paulo says that the upcoming bankruptcy is "a long process that we're just announcing today and I can't speculate on what changes, if any, could result". The actions resulted in significant financial constraints for PG&E, the company said. The utility has faced intense criticism and regular public protests at its San Francisco headquarters over the role its equipment has played in a series of wildfires that have devastated California over the past two years.

PG&E Corp. stated that it aimed to file to reorganize under chapter 11 on or around January 29.

PG&E Chief Executive Officer Geisha Williams resigned over the weekend and acting CEO John Simon said the company will "resolve its potential liabilities in an orderly, fair and expeditious fashion".

Shares of PG&E (PCG) plunged 48% when the market opened Monday. "We expect this process also will enable PG&E to access the capital and resources we need to continue providing our customers with safe service and investing in our systems and infrastructure".

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Pacific Gas and Electric said last month it determined weather conditions were no longer risky 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.

That notice may come as soon as Monday. "From the moment I was elected, I have been closely monitoring the impact of PG&E's existing and potential future liability for the deadly wildfires on the victims of the fires and the consumers who rely on PG&E for their electric and gas service". "Making management changes is something the state is looking for, and handing the head of the CEO might placate the state", he told The Wall Street Journal.

The company's board ousted CEO Geisha Williams and chose to undergo a restructuring at a meeting this weekend in San Francisco, according to a source familiar with the matter.

A federal judge last week proposed restricting PG&E from using power lines deemed unsafe during high winds in this year's fire season.

California utility company PG&E Corp. is in talks with investment banks about a financing package to aid the company through bankruptcy proceedings, Reuters reported on Sunday. During the 2019 wildfire season, the company would also be required to turn off power in parts of the grid if windy conditions make them unsafe.

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