California's Governor Criticizes PG&E Over Board Plans

Gov. Gavin Newsom's letter criticized what he described as the company's plans "to reconstitute its board with hedge fund financiers, out-of-state executives and others with little or no experience in California and inadequate expertise in utility operations, regulation and safety."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom sent a letter March 28 to executives at Pacific Gas & Electric Company criticizing what he described as the company's plans "to reconstitute its board with hedge fund financiers, out-of-state executives and others with little or no experience in California and inadequate expertise in utility operations, regulation and safety."

Addressed to John Simon, interim CEO of Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation, Newsom's letter said, "I am troubled to learn that PG&E is primed to reconstitute its board with hedge fund financiers, out-of-state executives and others with little or no experience in California and inadequate expertise in utility operations, regulation and safety. With this move, PG&E would send a clear message that it is prioritizing quick profits for Wall Street over public safety and reliable and affordable energy service."

The letter continued, "Time and again, PG&E has broken the public trust and its responsibilities to ratepayers, wildfire victims, and employees. This board appears to be more of the same. It raises serious doubts about the company's commitment to make changes needed to deliver safe, reliable and affordable power to Californians."

Newsom then urges the company "to reconsider and appoint board members who understand the imperative for change and the need to prioritize the interests of the people of California. PG&E's board should be comprised by a majority of Californians who have experience as regulators, safety experts and clean energy leaders. Any new board member should be resolved to change the culture of the company, understand the concerns of ratepayers and demonstrate a commitment to the fair treatment of wildfire victims and employees."

PG&E Corporation and its primary operating subsidiary, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, filed voluntary petitions Jan. 29 under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. The company could face billions of dollars in potential liability for 2018 wildfires in northern California, if plaintiffs can prove its equipment caused them.

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