PG&E Shares Plunge Once More, Falling Almost 50% in 5 Days

November 14, 2018, 5:16 PM UTC

California utility company PG&E is watching its stock price continue to erode at a breathtaking pace Wednesday, with shares falling more than 20% Wednesday morning.

Since the start of trading on Nov. 8, share prices are off just shy of 50%, as the ongoing wildfires in California damage the company’s infrastructure, and it faces some reports indicating a malfunction in its transmission lines might have been the cause for the Camp Fire.

Wednesday’s drop comes after PG&E said if it is found responsible for the fire, the costs would exceed its insurance coverage.

“While the cause of the Camp Fire is still under investigation, if the Utility’s equipment is determined to be the cause, the Utility could be subject to significant liability in excess of insurance coverage that would be expected to have a material impact on PG&E Corporation’s and the Utility’s financial condition, results of operations, liquidity, and cash flows,” the company wrote in a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

PG&E stock began plunging Monday, recording the biggest decline in 16 years. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, PG&E reported a transmission line outage about 20 minutes before the Camp Fire was reported. The San Jose Mercury News, meanwhile, pointed to radio transmissions from firefighters that indicated the utility’s downed power lines may have sparked the fire.

The Camp Fire has consumed 130,000 acres so far, destroying some 7,600 residences and 260 commercial buildings. The fire has claimed the lives of 48 civilians and is still just 35% contained, according to Cal Fire.