California utility PG&E replaces CEO amid bankruptcy worries


"We believe John is the right interim leader for the company while we work to identify a new CEO".

The utility is crippled with liabilities from California's deadly wildfires, facing as much as $30 billion in damages, a prospect that has wiped out two-thirds of PG&E's market value. It has access to about $1.5 billion in existing cash.

"PG&E provides gas and electric service to 16 million Californians", he said in the statement.

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.

California's wildfires in 2017 and 2018 will likely cost tens of billions of dollars.

PG&E issued a press release Sunday about changes in their leadership structure, naming John Simon as the Interim Chief Executive Officer.

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

Shares in the company are expected to fall by more than 50% when trading begins on Monday.

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". The utility said bankruptcy was the best way forward for employees and those who are claiming losses from wildfires that may have been caused by its power lines.

The company does not expect bankruptcy to interfere with providing its customers with power and other services, the company said in a statement Monday. 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.

"PG&E faces extensive litigation and significant potential liabilities resulting from these wildfires".

Support for PG&E's management eroded even further in December when state regulators accused the utility of falsifying records related to locating and marking underground gas lines from 2012 through 2017 _ years in which the company was trying to convince the public that it had cleaned up its act after a 2010 pipeline blast that killed eight in San Bruno, California. 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.