PG&E ex-CEO receives $2.5 million in severance as company announces plans for bankruptcy

Ben Tobin
July 1, 2018: A firefighter scrambles to stop a wildfire as wind drives embers across Highway 20 near Clearlake Oaks, Calif.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co.'s former CEO Geisha Williams will receive a severance package of approximately $2.5 million as the utility gears up to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The ex-chief executive officer announced her resignation from the company on Sunday in anticipation that PG&E would declare insolvency due to the billions of dollars it potentially faces for liability in its role in recent California wildfires. State fire investigators previously blamed the utility’s power lines for causing a number of California wildfires in October 2017.

The following day, PG&E announced its plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on or about January 29. It issued the announcement Monday because the utility must tell employees at least 15 days before a change of control in the company.

In addition to the $2.5 million in severance, Williams will receive accrued pension benefits, "the same as any employee of the company," said PG&E spokesperson Erin Garvey.

PG&E's board of directors named John Simon, the utility's executive vice president and general counsel, as interim CEO to replace Williams, who began serving as CEO of the utility in March 2017.

Some were critical of PG&E's severance package for Williams.

“It is outrageous that Geisha Williams is receiving anything,” Mark Toney, executive director with The Utility Reform Network, a consumer group, told The Mercury News. “She should be forced to return the money.” 

More: PG&E plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as Camp Fire investigation continues

More: PG&E CEO Geisha Williams resigns as California utility company faces uncertain future

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Follow USA TODAY intern Ben Tobin on Twitter: @TobinBen

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: PG&E ex-CEO receives $2.5 million in severance as company announces plans for bankruptcy