PG&E Stock Continues to Tumble Amid Board Changes, Bankruptcy Fears

PG&E Stock Continues to Tumble Amid Board Changes, Bankruptcy Fears

PG&E Stock Continues to Tumble Amid Board Changes, Bankruptcy Fears

The company is considering the move as a contingency, in part because it could soon take a significant financial charge for the fourth quarter of 2018 related to liabilities from the blazes, the sources said.

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The utility, which provides electricity to about 16 million Californians, is contemplating filing for bankruptcy protection, Reuters reports.

PG&E, whose shares have lost almost half of their value since the wildfire, said it is working with a leading search firm to identify new directors and is interviewing several candidates.

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The potential for bankruptcy may pressure lawmakers to decide on whether to allow the company to pass some of the costs of the fire through to taxpayers, Katie Bays and Clayton Allen, analysts at Height Securities LLC said in a note on Monday.

PG&E's total liability could be upwards of $26.5 billion, according to Hugh Wynne, co-head of Utilities, Power Equipment & Renewable Energy at SSR. "We recognize the need to balance the interests of many stakeholders while maintaining safe, reliable and affordable services for our customers, which is always our top priority", the company said in a statement. But that is just a possibility, they said, so bankruptcy preparations are being made.

A new law signed by California governor Jerry Brown a year ago, requires the commission to consider a utility's finances when evaluating damages caused by wildfires, in order to determine the maximum amount it can pay without harming customers.

"Rather than waiting for the regulators to tell you what's going to happen - which could take years", he said, "you're in the bankruptcy court where there's a structure". PG&E had reported equipment problems near the origin of the fire around the time it began. But the bill did not cover 2018 fires.

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The company said on Friday that it was reviewing its "structural options" and assessing its operations, finances, management, structure and governance. Lawmakers were in talks late previous year for legislation to protect the company from liabilities related to the 2018 fires.

However, the company said its board of directors is looking for new members and engaging outside experts for advice on wildfire safety.

Earlier last month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) opened a proceeding to consider penalties against the company, ordering immediate action against the utility for falsifying safety documents for natural gas pipelines. It emerged from bankruptcy in 2004.

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