- Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on Monday announced sweeping leadership changes, selecting Bill Johnson, who led the Tennessee Valley Authority for six years, to take over as president and CEO and lead the embattled California utility through a bankruptcy-driven restructuring and wildfire-related issues.
- Effective as of the next board meeting, PG&E also said 10 new directors have been appointed and seven current directors will step down. The next board meeting will be held "as soon as practicable."
- PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January facing billions in liabilities related to its role in the state's catastrophic wildfires. Regulators have been considering changes to management and the utility's corporate structure, including potentially splitting apart the gas and electric operations.
PG&E announced changes yesterday following discussions with stakeholders and investors, rolling out a new leadership slate the company says is "focused on enhancing safety culture and operational excellence."
In a statement, the PG&E board hailed Johnson's "substantial safety and operational expertise" in leading TVA. He was also a previous chairman, president and CEO of Progress Energy.
The new CEO "has a deep understanding of managing risk and the responsibility of keeping customers safe," the board said. "We believe Mr. Johnson is the right leader for PG&E as we work to strengthen our safety culture and navigate a complex and challenging period in our company's history."
Johnson replaces PG&E interim CEO John Simon, who stepped into the role after Geisha Williams left the utility following its bankruptcy filing.
As for the board of directors "refreshment," PG&E said all directors, including the newly appointed directors, will stand for election at the company's annual meeting on May 21. Newly-appointed CEO Johnson will also stand for election as a fourteenth director at the meeting.
The selection of Johnson and the new board members was made with the support of three investment firms, said PG&E: Abrams Capital Management, Knighthead Capital Management and Redwood Capital Management.
The 10 incoming board members will include: Richard Barrera, Jeffrey Bleich, Nora Mead Brownell, Cheryl Campbell, Michael Leffell, Kenneth Liang, Dominique Mielle, Meridee Moore, Kristine Schmidt and Alejandro Wolff. Three current directors will continue: Fred Fowler, Richard Kelly and Eric Mullins.
Mead Brownell was a Federal Energy Regulatory commissioner from 2001 to 2006. Kelly is a former chairman and CEO of Xcel Energy.
PG&E said the new board has more than 125 years of collective experience in financial and operational restructurings, which "will not only help guide PG&E through Chapter 11, but will also enable cultural change at PG&E."
PG&E in February announced it would take a $10.5 billion pre-tax charge related to the 2018 Camp Fire, concluding its equipment was likely the cause of the deadly blaze. However, all of California's utilities are focused on the state's wildfire issues right now, and the California Public Utilities Commission is reviewing updated mitigation plans following changes to state law.