Pacific Gas & Electric is reporting substantial losses for the third quarter, driven by catastrophic wildfires that have been blamed on the utility’s outdated transmission lines. The company anticipates those costs could escalate to as much as $6.3 billion.
PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January to deal with an estimated $30 billion in liabilities from wildfires that its equipment may have ignited in 2017 and 2018, including a wildfire last November that essentially wiped out the Northern California town of Paradise and killed 85 people.
The company is also facing criticism for intentional blackouts that have left millions without power as it tries to limit wildfires during dry, windy conditions.
California’s governor on Friday threatened a possible takeover of the troubled utility unless it can emerge from bankruptcy ahead of next year’s wildfire season with a plan focused on safety. The company has said it prefers to work its way out of bankruptcy protection, but will need the help of government, insurance companies and investors.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called PG&E CEO Bill Johnson into a closed-door meeting Tuesday.
Since the utility’s bankruptcy filing in January, PG&E’s shareholders and creditors have battled for control of the company, putting forth competing plans in bankruptcy court that would maintain PG&E’s long-running setup as a for-profit company.
The state’s largest utility on Thursday swung to a loss of $1.62 billion, after a profit of $564 million in the same period last year.
That’s a per-share loss of $3.06, or $1.11 when one-time costs are removed. Revenue was $4.43 billion.
Shares in PG&E fell 5% in morning trading. A year ago, they were trading around $48 per share.