PG&E plans huge shakeup of board of directors amid wildfire woes

PG&E on Monday outlined a major shakeup of its board of directors, vowing that most of the board will be new and independent directors, a move designed to appease volleys of criticism in the wake of a series of lethal infernos and gas system failures.

The embattled utility, already a convicted felon for crimes it committed before and after a fatal explosion in San Bruno that killed eight, toppled into bankruptcy on Jan. 29 in a quest to ward off a mountain of debts that loom over its crumbling finances

Those debts include potentially $30 billion in liabilities arising from deadly firestorms in Northern California in 2017 and 2018.

Critics of PG&E maintain that its current board of directors — of which half were on the board at the time of the 2010 San Bruno disaster — continues to supervise the utility despite a string of catastrophes, and needs to be ousted or dramatically shaken up.

“We fully understand that PG&E must re-earn trust and credibility with its customers, regulators, the communities it serves and all of its stakeholders,” PG&E’s board stated in a prepared release outlining the plans to revamp the panel’s membership.

Among the laundry list of disasters or failures linked to PG&E that were overseen by the board of directors, as viewed by PG&E critics:

— Five of PG&E’s convictions in its criminal trial involved pipeline safety violations that occurred before the explosion — and one occurred after the blast when PG&E obstructed an official federal investigation into the disaster.

— The San Bruno blast occurred due to a deadly mixture of PG&E’s shoddy maintenance, flawed record keeping, as well as lazy and ineffective oversight of PG&E by the state Public Utilities Commission.

— PG&E in 2018 was accused by the PUC of falsifying gas pipeline records over a five-year period from 2012 to 2017 — despite claims by the utility that it had learned the tragic lessons of the San Bruno blast.

— A fatal 2015 wildfire in Amador County and Calaveras County caused when a tree came into contact with a PG&E power line.

— The lethal Wine Country firestorms of 2017, including 17 that were caused by PG&E’s electrical equipment.

— The deadly Butte County wildfire of 2018. PG&E stated that it suffered equipment failures in the origin area of the blaze.

“We recognize the importance of adding fresh perspectives to the Board to help address the serious challenges the business faces now and in the future,” PG&E’s board stated Monday.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Business


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