- California regulators want a closer look at the background and experience of new leadership at Pacific Gas & Electric, as part of an ongoing investigation into the safety culture and governing structure at the embattled utility.
- The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Tuesday issued a proposed order calling for PG&E to submit information about the "safety experience and qualifications" of its board of directors. In April the company tapped a new CEO and 10 new directors, as part of its reorganization efforts.
- In March, NorthStar Consulting delivered a report to the CPUC that noted improvement in the safety culture at PG&E, but also made a series of recommendations including adding safety qualifications for the board of directors.
PG&E announced a sweeping overhaul of its leadership in early April, and now regulators want to make sure those brought on board match up with the NorthStar recommendations PG&E agreed to adopt. The commission will examine whether PG&E's appointment of the new directors is "consistent with effective implementation of the recommendations in the NorthStar Report," according to the proposed order.
Utility officials say they welcome the oversight.
"The new Boards of Directors bring fresh perspectives, experience and expertise to further strengthen a culture of safety and accountability," the company told Utility Dive in a statement. PG&E Corp.'s Nominating and Governance Committee "explicitly added safety expertise to the variety of experience and skills we require for our directors."
PG&E has selected Bill Johnson, former head of the Tennessee Valley Authority, to take over as president and CEO and lead the embattled California utility through a bankruptcy-driven restructuring and wildfire-related issues.
PG&E pointed out to Utility Dive that its directors include industry leaders and federal and state regulators. Nora Mead Brownell was a Federal Energy Regulatory commissioner from 2001 to 2006. Richard Kelly, one of the three current directors staying on the board, is a former chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy.
"PG&E believes that the new Board members possess the important qualifications—including and especially safety expertise—to lead PG&E going forward, and we are evaluating the specific requirements of the Proposed Decision," the company said in its statement.
Information about board members requested in the proposed decision includes safety-specific education and training received, supervisor- or management-level safety-specific work experience, all safety-specific board of director experience, and other details.