The New PG&E

Utility attempts to move forward with executive personnel overhaul

Pacific Gas & Electric, whose safety and negligence oversights became a public relations nightmare over the past decade, is turning the page. The embattled utility now attempts to move forward with an overhaul of its executive personnel, which it says will—first and foremost—guide the company through the bankruptcy process.

In an announcement released to the press Wednesday, PG&E Corporation confirmed the appointment of William “Bill” Johnson as Chief Executive Officer and President. The company also detailed the appointment of 10 new directors to its Board of Directors. These board appointments “will be effective as of the next in-person Board meeting, which will be held as soon as practicable,” the company stated. “The significant changes in leadership reflect PG&E’s focus on strengthening its safety culture and operational effectiveness and successfully navigating the Company’s Chapter 11 process.”

It is clear, after a stretch of many (very) difficult years for the company during which it uncovered repeated and troubling negligence on the part of both executives and technicians, much of which caused or failed to prevent California wildfires over the past three summers, that PG&E is emphasizing safety for the forseeable future.

“Safety at PG&E is the central-most mission of both the management team and the Board. To that end, PG&E made a commitment to enacting leadership changes, including selecting a new CEO and undertaking a significant Board refreshment process to replace a majority of the Board with new independent directors prior to the Company’s 2019 Annual Meeting of Shareholders. In addition to the appointment of Mr. Johnson as CEO and President, the Company today announced a refreshed Board that includes 13 highly accomplished individuals committed to further enhancing PG&E’s safety culture, understanding and properly responding to customer concerns and fairly treating wildfire victims, employees, retirees and other interested parties. Mr. Johnson, the management team and the Board are also committed to working constructively with regulators, policymakers and other stakeholders in an open and transparent fashion in support of California’s policy goals.”—PG&E press release, April 3, 2019

The PG&E Board stated: “We have heard the calls for change and have taken action today to ensure that PG&E has the right leadership to bring about real and dynamic change that reinforces our commitment to safety, continuous improvement and operational excellence. We believe our new CEO and the newly constituted Board will help PG&E address California’s evolving energy challenges and deliver what our customers expect from their energy company.”

Board Refreshment

Effective as of the next in-person Board meeting, which will be held as soon as practicable, Richard Barrera, Jeffrey Bleich, Nora Mead Brownell, Cheryl Campbell, Michael Leffell, Kenneth Liang, Dominique Mielle, Meridee Moore, Kristine Schmidt and Alejandro Wolff will join continuing PG&E directors Fred Fowler, Richard Kelly and Eric Mullins on the Board. In connection with these appointments, the remaining directors will be stepping down from the Board at that time. The members of the newly constituted Board will elect a new Chair of the Board and determine committee assignments. All PG&E directors, including the newly appointed directors, will stand for election at the Annual Meeting, scheduled for May 21, 2019. In addition, Bill Johnson will stand for election as a fourteenth director at the upcoming Annual Meeting. Abrams Capital Management, Knighthead Capital Management and Redwood Capital Management engaged in discussions with PG&E’s Board and management as part of PG&E’s CEO selection and Board refreshment process and have expressed support for the new CEO and the new Board.

A profile on Johnson, provided by PG&E, can be read below. For more details about the rest of the new board members, the original release can be viewed here.

Bill Johnson, PG&E’s New CEO

Bill Johnson is concluding a more than six-year tenure as President and CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), with responsibility for leading the nation’s largest publicly owned utility in its mission of providing energy, environmental stewardship and economic development across a seven-state region.

During Mr. Johnson’s time at TVA, the organization achieved the best safety records in its 85-year history and has been a perennial top decile safety performer in the utility industry. In that same period, Mr. Johnson led the retirement of more than half of TVA’s coal generation, resulting in a reduction of TVA’s carbon emissions by about 50% over the last decade. He was responsible for leading the generation of more than 50% of TVA’s energy from non-greenhouse gas emitting sources. He also oversaw TVA’s expansion into utility-scale solar in recent years, with the addition of approximately 1,000 megawatts (mWs), and pursued the modernization of its hydro assets to increase the overall amount of renewable resources. TVA’s renewable portfolio includes almost 2,400 mWs of wind and solar and 5,800 mWs of hydro capacity.

Prior to his tenure at TVA, Mr. Johnson was the Chairman, President and CEO of Progress Energy. Throughout his career in the electric utility industry, Mr. Johnson has collaborated closely with elected officials and other community leaders to deliver safe and reliable electricity to millions of customers. The Board expects Mr. Johnson to begin his role in late April 2019.

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