"Breaking it up or the state running the company, those are all incredibly complicated proposals that just have no indication that they would be successful, certainly not anytime soon", he said. However, investors were more spooked by the fact that the company is reviewing unnamed "structural options", as the announcement came the same day as a Reuters report that said PG&E was exploring bankruptcy for some or all of its businesses. One option under consideration: Selling its natural gas business after a bankruptcy filing, the people familiar with the matter said.
A bankruptcy filing reportedly is not PG&E's preference for addressing the liabilities, but the preparations could put pressure on California politicians hoping the company can avoid such an outcome.
News of the possibly bankruptcy filing sent shares of PG&E plummeting in after-hours trading on Friday.
The utility could be faced with billions of dollars of liabilities from fatal blazes in 2018 and 2017. "We recognize the need to balance the interests of many stakeholders while maintaining safe, reliable, and affordable services for our customers, which is always our top priority".
"Rather than waiting for the regulators to tell you what's going to happen - which could take years", he said, "you're in the bankruptcy court where there's a structure".
The company said it has formed a special board committee that includes independent experts to advise on wildfire safety best practices.
NPR first reported on the exploration of the gas unit sale earlier on Friday.
PG&E could be on the hook for tens of billions of dollars for its potential role in California's devastating Camp Fire previous year - the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state's history.
The San Francisco-based company has lost more than half its market value since the deadliest wildfire in California history broke out in early November, compounding financial woes it was already facing after blazes destroyed parts of wine country a year earlier. PG&E reported an outage around the time and place that the fire ignited. California policymakers had approved a bill that let utilities pass on to customers some costs related to wildfires, according to Moody's.
The bill allows for the possibility that utilities could issue similar bonds for future fires, but that is not guaranteed.
Late Friday, PG&E said that it's looking to shake up its board of directors, using a search firm to identify new board members with a "fresh perspective" as it looks to beef up its fire safety protocols.