PG&E's Former CEO to Walk Away With Millions After Wildfires

PG&E chief executive leaving as utility readies for possible bankruptcy

Reuters reported over the weekend that PG&E is in talks with investment banks about a multimillion-dollar bankruptcy financing package.

PG&E shares quickly fell $8.20, to $9.39, in early morning New York Stock Exchange trading.

On the PG&E website, the company stated it would, "initiate voluntary reorganization proceedings under Chapter 11".

In November, the most deadly fire in Californian history began in the town of Paradise, killing 86 people.

State fire investigators blamed the utility's power lines for causing a number of California wildfires in October 2017.

That would dwarf the US$1.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand as of Friday.

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"It is clear that a solution is needed that enables the continued safe delivery of natural gas and electric service to our customers and supports the orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of PG&E's potential liabilities resulting from the recent wildfires".

It said it believes bankruptcy is "appropriate, necessary and in the best interests of all stakeholders, including wildfire claimants", as well as other creditors, its shareholders and customers. "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". He said in a later interview that the announcement would involve appointments to the California Public Utilities Commission, the state's grid operator and to a commission established by legislature to explore wildfire issues.

NEW: PG&E announced today it's seeking a new Chief Executive Officer following the departure of Geisha Williams.

The utility said it would keep spending on system safety as it provides gas and electric "in an environment that continues to be challenged by climate change".

The company's board made a decision 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. General counsel John Simon will take the helm in the meantime. "Our search is focused on extensive operational and safety expertise, and the Board is committed to further change at PG&E". 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. In 2017, she became the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

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