California utility PG&E’s stock falls over 20 percent as company faces wildfire claims

07 January 2019

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USA – The giant California utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. had its stock price plunge by more than 20 percent on Monday in the wake of reports that the company is exploring a possible bankruptcy over possible claims tied to the deadly wildfires.

San Francisco-based PG&E sold at $18.93 a share at the final bell, down 22.4 percent Friday’s closing price of $24.40.

That is down 60 percent from its stock price of $48.80 on Nov. 7, the day before the deadly Camp Fire ignited in Northern California.

PG&E’s 52-week high was $49.42.

The utility is facing lawsuits connected to California’s deadliest-ever wildfire, the Camp Fire, which killed 86 people and charred more than 150,000 acres, the state firefighting agency said. Virtually the entire town of Paradise in Butte County was destroyed.

Several plaintiffs have claimed that improperly maintained power lines operated by PG&E caused the massive blaze. Among the claims are that rings linking power lines either fell or broke off on a 75-foot-tall tower, allowing a live wire to come loose near where the fire started on the morning of Nov. 8.

A representative for PG&E could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

Reuters reported Friday that PG&E — which could face billions of dollars in claims if found liable — is considering filing for bankruptcy protection.

The wildfire allegations come on top of the company’s being found criminally liable in 2017 for a gas line explosion in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno in 2010 that killed eight people.

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