PG&E shares plunge on bankruptcy worries

Camp Fire: PG&E gets sued by insurance companies

The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings. The filing isn't certain, the people said, but it may be enough to force the hand of state legislators who could come up with a rescue package. Lawmakers declined, but they allowed the company to pass along some of the costs from the 2017 fires to its customers in hopes of sparing it from bankruptcy.

This follows Friday's report by Reuters saying the utility is considering the move for some or all of its businesses.

The shares were down 23 percent in pre-market trading.

State Senator Jerry Hill, an outspoken PG&E critic, said the utility previously raised bankruptcy as leverage when seeking state assistance in paying its liabilities from wildfires in 2017. "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".

PG&E could wait to see how things play out in California, or it could opt for a bankruptcy proceeding that would prove more predictable and free the company from the mercy of state policy makers, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kit Konolige said. The sale could also take place outside a bankruptcy process, the same source said.

NPR first reported on the exploration of the gas unit sale earlier on Friday.

The California attorney general told a judge last week that PG&E could face charges as serious as involuntary manslaughter or murder if investigators determine that reckless operation or maintenance of power equipment caused any recent wildfires in the state.

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. PG&E had reported equipment problems near the origin of the fire around the time it began.

The bill allows for the possibility that utilities could issue similar bonds for future fires, but that is not guaranteed.

Allstate Insurance, State Farm, and USAA have each filed lawsuits against Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E).

PG&E added that it has formed a special board committee that includes independent experts to advise on wildfire safety best practices. Lawmakers were in talks late previous year for legislation to protect the company from liabilities related to the 2018 fires. The utility's total market value is now below $15 billion, and PG&E has just $3.5 billion in cash after borrowing from an existing revolving credit line.

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