The Utility Company is Fighting to Emerge from Bankruptcy Triggered by 2017 and 2018 Wildfires
PG&E Corporation’s CEO Bill Johnson has announced that he will retire from the utility company on June 30, 2020. His retirement is expected to be after the company’s Plan of Reorganization is confirmed by the Bankruptcy Court.
Bill was hired by the company fourteen months ago to rescue it from bankruptcy. The nation’s utility is fighting to emerge from bankruptcy triggered by deadly 2017 and 2018 wildfires blamed on its faulty electrical grid. Nearly 130 people were killed and more than 25,000 buildings were destroyed. He replaced Geisha Williams, who stepped down as the company’s CEO shortly before it filed for bankruptcy in January 2019.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees PG&E’s operations, had proposed a complete overhaul of the corporation’s governance entire 14-member board of directors as a condition to approving the company’s bankruptcy plan.
PG&E has named William “Bill” Smith as Interim CEO. Smith joined the PG&E Board of Directors in 2019 and will lead the company until a new CEO is appointed. Johnson will remain on the board until June 30, which is the deadline for PG&E to wrap up its bankruptcy case with a deal that includes $25.5 billion to pay for losses suffered in Northern California wildfires.
Smith is the retired President of AT&T Technology Operations at AT&T Services, Inc. He held a number of senior positions over his 37-year stay at the company.
“I joined PG&E to help get the company out of bankruptcy and stabilize operations. By the end of June, I expect that both of these goals will have been met,” Johnson said shortly after his planned retirement was announced. “As we look to PG&E’s next chapter, this great company should be led by someone who has the time and career trajectory ahead of them to ensure that it fulfills its promise to reimagine itself as a new utility and deliver the safe and reliable service that its customers and communities expect and deserve. I want to thank the Board as well as all of the employees, who work so hard every day to address the challenges the company has faced–it has been a privilege to work with them.”