PG&E CEO resigns, utility may give bankruptcy notice to staff

For months, there has been talk about PG&E filing for bankruptcy, but now it seems PG&E may be moving towards bankruptcy faster than expected.

There was no official word from PG&E about bankruptcy, but the company did announce Sunday that their CEO resigned.

Facing billions of dollars in potential liabilities for its role in the 2017 Tubbs Fire and 2018 Camp Fire, PG&E employees may learn as soon as Monday that the utility giant is preparing to file for bankruptcy.

“It’s a big problem,” said State Senator Bill Dodd, who was the lead author of SB901, a new bill that provides some financial relief to PG&E and requires the company to notify employees 15 days in advance of any change in control of the company, including bankruptcy.

“I’m worried about making sure that we keep the lights on and the gas to homes and businesses throughout the state of California during this period.”

Dodd says he heard directly from someone within PG&E, that they will notify employees Monday and is not surprised after the utility’s credit rating was downgraded to junk status on Tuesday by Standard & Poor’s.

“Bankruptcy, downgrading credits are not good for victims of these wildfires and they’re definitely not good for ratepayers in the long run.”

Dodd says he spoke to experts after PG&E’s credit rating slipped and says it’s likely to result in higher rates. “Over time, this could mean $140 a year increase in people’s PG&E bill.”

“We have heard the threat of bankruptcy from PG&E again and again. Well, they may or may not choose bankruptcy. What we do know is this, they have used that threat to manipulate the legislature, to manipulate the PUC, to get bailouts and to not be held accountable,” said Mindy Spatt who is the communications chief of The Utility Reform Network or TURN, a non-profit that advocates for low utility rates.

“It’s their job to figure out how PG&E should pay its bills, When customers can’t pay their bills, what PG&E does is shut them off. Yet when PG&E can’t pay its bills, are we customers supposed to treat it like a charity?”

Besides potential rate hikes, Spatt says she’s worried about big payouts to PG&E executives. PGE&E announced Sunday night that their CEO, Geisha Williams, resigned.

“We also want to make sure that customers don’t pay for golden parachutes for any member of the board of directors of PG&E,” said Spatt when she learned of Williams’ resignation.