PG&E CEO Quits After Backlash From Deadly Wildfires

on Jan14

14 January 2019 | 7:20 am

The chief executive for PG&E has stepped down, and the utility said its board of directors is searching for a new CEO, according to a company announcement Sunday.

Geisha Williams resigned from her position as CEO and was replaced on an interim basis by Executive Vice President and General Counsel John Simon, PG&E said.

“On behalf of the Board, I want to thank Geisha for her service and her tireless commitment to our employees and the 16 million Californians we serve,” Richard C. Kelly, chair of the Board of PG&E Corp., said in a statement. “While we are making progress as a company in safety and other areas, the Board recognizes the tremendous challenges PG&E continues to face. We believe John is the right interim leader for the company while we work to identify a new CEO. Our search is focused on extensive operational and safety expertise, and the Board is committed to further change at PG&E.”

PG&E is being investigated for its role in multiple deadly wildfires across California. The company’s stock has plummeted in recent months, and there have been reports it is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Cal Fire inspectors blamed PG&E equipment for sparking a dozen fires across Northern California in 2017. Investigators are now looking into whether the utility’s equipment may have sparked the Camp Fire in Butte County, which killed at least 88 people.

The state attorney general recently concluded that PG&E could be held liable for damages and criminal charges if faulty equipment is found to have started the deadliest fire in California history.

Also on Sunday night, CNBC reported that Pacific Gas and Electric Co. may be preparing to declare bankruptcy and could tell employees as soon as Monday.

Simon, who has been with PG&E since 2007, having held several senior positions, will act as CEO until the company finds a permanent replacement for Williams.

“While the Board conducts its CEO search, our priority will be keeping the company focused on further improving safety while continuing to provide reliable service to our customers,” Simon said in a statement.

Williams resigned from the boards of both the holding company and the utility, PG&E said.

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