California’s wildfires claimed their latest victim this morning as the state’s main utility provider PG&E filed for bankruptcy.
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company said it had submitted a so-called Chapter 11 filing in a bid to deal with potentially $30bn (£22.8bn) in liabilities as its network sparked hundreds of fires.
The filing will allow PG&E to tap into $5.5bn in debtor-in-possession financing from a series of US and international banks, meaning it can prioritise new loans above old debt.
“We also intend to work together with our customers, employees and other stakeholders to create a more sustainable foundation for the delivery of safe, reliable and affordable service in the years ahead,” said interim chief executive John Simon.
“To be clear, we have heard the calls for change and we are determined to take action throughout this process to build the energy system our customers want and deserve.”
PG&E said it had also asked the court to let it keep on paying its employees and providing healthcare. It will also continue programmes to help low income customers, and encourage clean energy.
The news comes days after investigators for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection found PG&E’s equipment did not causes the deadly Tubbs fire, which killed 22 people in the state.
After the report California Governor Gavin Newsom said: “My focus is not PG&E, my focus is on California and Californians. My focus is on safe, reliable, and affordable service,” CNN reported.
But the utility could still be held liable for Camp fire, the most destructive in the history of the state.
“Through this process, we will prioritise what matters most to our customers and the communities we serve — safety and reliability. We believe that this process will make sure that we have sufficient liquidity to serve our customers and support our operations and obligations,” Simon said.
The company dropped 43.5 per cent on its secondary Frankfurt listing this morning. It fell 17 per cent in New York before trading started.