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

14 January 2019

The company's board of directors has named John Simon Interim Chief Executive Officer as the search for a new CEO continues.

The company, which has 20,000 employees, has assured its customers it expects to continue supplying power "without disruption". Williams, 57, took over as CEO in March 2017 and is leaving after a catastrophic three months for PG&E.

PG&E expects the Chapter 11 process will "support the orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of its potential liabilities resulting from the 2017 and 2018 Northern California wildfires".

"While we are making progress as a company in safety and other areas, the Board recognizes the tremendous challenges PG&E continues to face", said Richard Kelly, chair of PG&E's board.

The Camp Fire, the most deadly and destructive fire in state history, has yet to be assigned an official cause, but PG&E reporting having an equipment malfunction near the spot around the same time the fire ignited.

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California's wildfires in 2017 and 2018 will likely cost tens of billions of dollars. Such a notice would be required by state law. She was one of a group of women occupying the C-suite at power companies - including Duke Energy Corp.'s Lynn Good, El Paso Electric Co.'s Mary Kipp, PNM Resources Inc.'s Pat Vincent-Collawn and Sunrun Inc.'s Lynn Jurich.

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. The wildfire caused 86 deaths and destroyed 14,000 homes, along with more than 500 businesses and 4,300 other buildings.

PG&E faces widespread litigation, government investigations and liabilities that could potentially reach $30 billion, according to the company, accounting for damage from fires past year and in 2017.

"PG&E faces extensive litigation and significant potential liabilities resulting from these wildfires". Shares of PG&E were already down 63% since the start of the Camp Fire.

-With assistance from David R. Baker and Peter Blumberg.

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