"PG&E expects that the Chapter 11 process will, among other things, support the orderly, fair and expeditious resolution of its potential liabilities resulting from the 2017 and 2018 Northern California wildfires, and will assure the company has access to the capital and resources it needs to continue to provide safe service to customers", California's largest utility company said in a statement.
The San Francisco-based company said it will file under Chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code by January 29 after giving the required 15-day notice to its employees, according to a filing at the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday. The California Public Utilities Commission is considering breaking up the power company.
PG&E said in a letter to pensioners that it doesn't expect any changes to its tax-qualified pension plans, or to its life and health-insurance benefits.
Pacific Gas and Energy Corporation (PG&E) said the fires, which devastated huge areas of California, had triggered "significant" potential liabilities. Investigators found that the power utility had caused 17 major wildfires in 2017, and evidence suggests the company may be responsible for others in 2018 as well, The Wall Street Journal reports. "We believe John is the right interim leader for the company while we work to identify a new CEO".
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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. The board of directors chose John Simon as interim CEO.
NEW: PG&E announced today it's seeking a new Chief Executive Officer following the departure of Geisha Williams. It has access to about $1.5 billion in existing cash.
Richard Kelly, chairman of PG&E Corp., said a Chapter 11 filing "represents the only viable option to address to the company's responsibilities to its stakeholders".
Williams knew the risks that she faced because of wildfires liabilities. 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. It is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire to have occurred in the state.