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

PG&E Bankruptcy Filing Looming

Embattled utility PG&E, facing potentially billions of dollars in liability over California's deadly wildfires previous year, has replaced its CEO.

By filing for bankruptcy, the company will be able to work with "wildfire victims, customers, employees, creditors, shareholders, the financial community and business partners", in one court-supervised process, it said.

Debtor-in-possession financing is used by companies that have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to help reorganize and turn the company around.

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.

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.

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

Last week, a federal judge said in a court order that the utility may be ordered to inspect its electric grid and turn off power during windy conditions to prevent wildfires this year.

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PG&E CEO Geisha Williams stepped down from her position on Sunday.

The company said Monday that it has only about $1.5 billion in cash and cash equivalents on hand. Her departure follows the exit of three PG&E executives earlier this month - Patrick Hogan, senior vice president of electric operations at PG&E's utility unit; Kevin Dasso, vice president of electric asset management; and Gregg Lemler, vice president of electric transmission.

The utility holding company said it did not see any impact to electric or natural gas services for its customers as a result of a bankruptcy.

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

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 daughter of Cuban political refugees, Williams became the nation's first Latina CEO of a Fortune 500 company when she took over PG&E. At an energy conference last year in Houston she said - jokingly - that if she failed to change a state law on wildfires, "I won't be here in two years". The Camp Fire killed 86 people and all but destroyed the town of Paradise.

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