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'California deserves better.' Gov. Gavin Newsom to PG&E on board changes

In a letter to the utility company, Gov. Newsom urged PG&E to reconsider it selection of board members, saying they lack knowledge of the state and utility operations.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — "California deserves better," California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a letter to Pacific Gas and Electric Thursday, addressing the fact that the utility company plans to reconstruct its board with members who have little experience in the state or in utility operations. 

"PG&E’s board should be comprised by a majority of Californians who have experience as regulators, safety experts and clean energy leaders," Gov. Newsom said, adding that the board member decisions make it clear that PG&E is more concerned with profits than public safety. 

PG&E spokeswoman Lynsey Paulo said the company understands and recognizes Newsom's concerns and shares his urgency for action. She said the company recognizes the importance of adding people to the board who will bring about safety changes and address operational and financial challenges.

Paulo declined to address whether the utility is planning to replace its board with hedge fund financiers and people without utility expertise.

In the letter to PG&E CEO John Simon, the Governor accused the company of repeatedly breaking the trust of customers, wildfire victims and employees, and said the selection of board members makes it seem as though more of the same is to come. 

The letter reads, in full: 

"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."

San Francisco-based PG&E is in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings after it said it could not afford billions of dollars in liability related to deadly wildfires.

It has said it will replace most of its board amid a bankruptcy proceeding related to costs from deadly wildfires. 

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WATCH MORE: What could a PG&E bankruptcy mean for you?

Pacific Gas & Electric could face any number of lawsuits tied to California wildfires, but on January 14th, PG&E announced their intent to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. What does that potentially mean for customers and litigants?