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Newsom Blasts PG&E For Possible Board Picks

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Sacramento, CA – After getting a sneak peek of those on the list for seats on Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) Corporation’s board, Governor Gavin Newsom showed his disdain in a letter to the utility.

In the letter sent by Newsom on Thursday, he blasted the utility for planning to stack its board of directors with hedge fund financiers and people who have little experience in utility operations and safety. He went on to urge the utility’s leader to change course.

“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,” stated Newsom.

The governor’s office is not releasing the names on the list. Previously, PG&E had announced plans to replace most of its board by its annual shareholder meeting on May 12th. The company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy stating that it cannot afford billions of dollars in liability related to deadly California wildfires in 2017 and 2018.

PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo told the Associated Press via email that the utility understands “the serious concerns expressed by the governor” and his urgency. She went on to explain, “We recognize the importance of adding perspectives to the Board that will bring about the right changes in safety, as well as help address the serious operational and financial challenges the business faces now and in the future.”

Shareholders will elect a new board at the annual meeting in May. The average term is more than seven years.

A consumer advocacy group has come out in support of the Governor serving notice to the utility that replacing the board with the same old profits before safety interests as done in the past is not going to solve the problem.

View Newsom’s entire letter to PG&E below:

March 28, 2019

John Simon
Interim CEO, Pacific Gas & Electric
77 Beale Street
San Francisco, CA 94105

Mr. Simon,

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.

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.

California deserves better.  I strongly urge you 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.

Sincerely,
California Governor Gavin Newsom ​

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