California's Pacific Gas and Electric officials say they are planning to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy around the end of the month, and that is causing the company's share prices to drop fast. In early trading share of PG&E plummeted 55 percent on the news of the pending bankruptcy filing.
Under a new state law, the utility has to give at least 15 days notice of the intent to file for bankruptcy to employees.
State Senator Jerry Hill, who represents San Bruno, remembers well the PG&E gas pipeline explosion in that community back in 2010. He remains critical of the utility and told Christina Mendonza with The KFBK Morning News that he will work to make sure that ratepayers will come out any bankruptcy whole, while he tries to ensure PG&E is more responsible when it comes to safety and reliability. Hill also acknowledged that the state is limited in what it can do, since bankruptcy is a federal process.
Republican state Senator Jim Nielsen, who represents the Town of Paradise and the surrounding communities devastated by Camp Fire, his focus will be on thousands of people who survived the Camp Fire in 2018.
"As PG&E prepares its intent to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on or by January 29, I will closely monitor the proceedings and work with the Governor and the Legislature to ensure that fire victims are prioritized and residents continue to receive reliable energy," said Nielsen in a written statement.
Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said that her department is also keeping an eye on the PG&E situation.
"The Department of Insurance is monitoring the potential impact of PG&E’s pending bankruptcy filing to make sure first and foremost that wildfire survivors are protected and able to collect the full benefits of their insurance claims from last year’s devastating wildfires," said Lara. "It is the expectation of the department that insurers will continue to pay claims fairly and in a timely manner."
Late Sunday, the utility said that chief executive Geisha Williams had resigned and that John Simon will serve as interim chief executive.
PG&E faces billions of dollars in liability over its alleged role in recent California wildfires. The company is in talks regarding a five-billion dollar financing package that would allow it to continue operating during bankruptcy proceedings.
Governor Gavin Newsom said he will work to make sure consumers have access to safe and affordable power and that fire victims are treated fairly during and after any PG&E bankruptcy process.