Pacific Gas and Electric announced the appointment of a CEO and 10 new directors on Wednesday to improve the "safety culture and operational efficiency" of the famous California tool.
Bill Johnson, former head of Progress Energy and the Tennessee Valley Authority, will fill the executive position held by Geisha Williams, who left in January, just before PG & E filed for his second bankruptcy over the past two decades.
PG & E has over ten thousand dollars in debt related to catastrophic fire traps over the past two years. In addition, climate change makes natural disasters more destructive, and shift to green energy goes up in the industry.
[ How Pacific Electric and Gas ignored fire risk to benefit of profit . ]
The board's agreements, supported by shareholders, are the latest developments in the struggle to gain influence over PG & E. While the tool undergoes bankruptcy reorganization, much of the power lies in the court of law. At the same time, investment companies are hoping to set up a new leadership that will help PG and E out of business and run it effectively. But the shareholders have to fight against California's politicians, the state's tool management and fire service representatives.
The board of 13 people has several members with a little energy experience, as well as several investors. It includes Nora Mead Brownell, who has served as Federal Energy Regulatory Commission commissioner; Cheryl Campbell, who until last year worked on Xcel Energy, an electric and gas tool; and Jeffrey Bleich, a partner at Dentons, a global law firm.
PG & E said the management had discussed the choice of new CEO and directors with three investment companies: Abrams Capital Management, Knighthead Capital Management and Redwood Capital Management. The companies, according to PG & E, support Mr. Johnson and the new board.
Nathan Click, a spokesman for Gov. Gavin Newsom in California said in a statement that the new board had not received what the administration wanted to see from the tool.
"PG and E have broken public trust and its responsibilities to ratepayers, fire victims and employees," says Mr. Click. "While changes were made in recent days to increase security and governance expertise on the board, this proposed board of directors continues to raise concerns – especially the large representation of Wall Street interests and most board members lacking the relevant California experience."  The incoming CEO, Mr. Johnson, 65, received national attention in July 2012 when he became Duke Energy's chief executive for less than a day before being fired and given a resignation worth an estimated $ 44 million. He was picked for the job as part of the merger of two North Carolina tools – Duke Energy and Progress Energy – to form the nation's largest electricity supply dealer.
From 2007 to 2012, Johnson served as CEO and Chairman of Progress Energy. Former Duke Director Jim Rogers, who died in December, then said that Mr. Johnson had been fired because of his leadership style and lack of transparency.
Herr. Johnson led Progress Energy during the renovation of his only nuclear power plant in Florida, in the Crystal River. In an unusual move, the tool determined itself to steer the project instead of adding it to an engineering company. Workers cracked the concrete building containing the reactor, forcing the permanent closure of a nuclear plant that was otherwise fully operational.
After Duke Energy, Mr. Johnson, the Tennessee Valley Authority, triggered a federally-owned and operational tool, hired him as his CEO.
In November, he announced his plan to resign from the government after reducing his debt by $ 3.5 billion and increasing the use of carbon-free energy sources. But in his time, usage management practices were criticized.
At a hearing on Tuesday in the Federal District Court in San Francisco, PG & E avoided a threatened judicial audit of its powerline maintenance work, which the tool previously estimated could cost up to $ 150 billion. Instead, judge William Alsup told it to focus on cutting down trees near electrical lines, subjecting random controls and fully complying with state laws and its own new fire reduction plan sent to state regulators.
PG & E was also directed not to pay out any shareholder dividends, which have been suspended since the end of 2017, until sufficient staff are employed and new wood maintenance standards are met.
"There is a problem with your own production," Judge Alsup told the official's officials. "A lot of money went out in dividends that should have gone to your tree budget."
The judge, who oversees the company's probation, derives from six crimes following a bomb explosion from the Bay Area 2010, saying he had issued ready-made orders in the interest of the public security, despite evidence of "really violent wrongdoing."
At the end of the hearing, the judge directly addressed PG & Es's temporary CEO, John Simon, who was sitting alone on the front of the otherwise full courtroom gallery.
"We have a fire season coming up fast, and in December we come back here and we want to know how many fires your company started," Judge Alsup said. "And I hope the answer is zero. That's what I want." "Me, too, judge," Simon said.