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PG&E stock plummets as it announces bankruptcy plans

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
Regulators are investigating whether the company's powerline infrastructure contributed to the Camp Fire, which killed 86 people in northern California in November. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
Regulators are investigating whether the company's powerline infrastructure contributed to the Camp Fire, which killed 86 people in northern California in November. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Facing blame for the deadliest wildfire in California history, Pacific Gas and Electric announced it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, sending its stock tumbling 50 percent Monday.

PG&E's market value has plummeted more than $30 billion since 2017. The company provided official 15-day notice that it will file petitions to reorganize under Chapter 11 bankruptcy on or about Jan. 29.

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This comes one day after the chief executive of the company stepped down.

Geisha Williams resigned as regulators investigate whether the company's powerline infrastructure contributed to the Camp Fire, which killed 86 people in northern California in November. PG&E's liability for the Camp Fire and other wildfires could total $30 billion.

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The utility's bonds have been downgraded to junk status and state officials are calling for a management shake-up.

California authorities blamed PG&E for 17 wildfires and the Tubbs Fire near Santa Rosa in 2017, and now the Camp Fire.

During her nearly two years at PG&E, Williams spent millions to absolve the utility of liability if its equipment starts a fire. The inverse condemnation essentially made PG&E the default insurer for the state. She blamed the wildfires on climate change, as hotter and drier conditions made the fires spread faster and occur more often.

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Williams, who became CEO in March 2017, was in elite company as one of the only women to run a power company and one of only about two dozen women running an S&P 500 company. She was born in Cuba, making her one of the few Latina CEOs of a Fortune 500 company.

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