Hiring for Pacific Gas & Electric nearly seizes as bankruptcy looms
Pacific Gas & Electric ($NYSE:PCG) has been supplying power to most of Northern California for 114 years. It is also facing a lawsuit for allegedly causing the most destructive California wildfire to date — the Camp Fire — due to improper maintenance, and will possibly face bankruptcy due to the anticipated liability.
While PG&E gears up for court, hiring at the company has slowed to a virtual standstill over the past three weeks.
According to data tracked from PG&E's careers website, hiring has plummeted by 93.62% since December 17. The utilities company had 94 positions listed as open on its careers website in mid-December. Today, it has just 6.
It is the lowest hiring activity the company has exhibited in at least a year, and understandably so given the impending lawsuit.
On top of this, the California Public Utilities Commission, the regulatory agency that regulates privately owned utilities in the state, is getting around to investigating the 2010 San Bruno gas line explosion and is claiming that PG&E falsified pipeline safety records. Meanwhile, PG&E's credit rating has been labeled "junk" and its Senior VP of Electric Operations left the company.
It's a bad scene: PG&E stock price is tanking and with it, company morale is dropping. According to Glassdoor data, the company's business outlook — or where current and former employees believe will be in the next six months — has sunk since the Camp Fire, dropping 7 percentage points to its lowest point in the past 18 months.
The utility company has faced bankruptcy once before. After the California energy crisis in 2000-2001, the state spent over $40 billion to help provide power to PG&E's customers after the utility company went bankrupt.
Earlier in 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission warned of a second energy crisis coming to the state because of people defecting from utility companies to source their own power. With PG&E potentially on the hook for not only the Camp Fire, but also the San Bruno explosion, the future looks grim unless the California government continues to bail them out or a complete restructuring.