As part of its plan to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, PG&E Corp. has committed to an overhaul of its board of directors in order to gain the support of California Gov. Gavin Newsom for its plan to emerge from bankruptcy. The embattled California utility said that only three of its 14 directors will remain on its board once it exits bankruptcy in the next few months.
The three remaining board members include retired AT&T executive William “Bill” Smith, former Xcel Energy executive Cheryl Campbell, and John Woolard, CEO of Meridian Energy. Smith, who joined the PG&E board in October, was named by the company as interim CEO last month to succeed current chief executive Bill Johnson, who steps down on June 30.
Gov. Newsom and California Public Utilities Commission president Marybel Batjer had wanted PG&E to replace its entire 14-member board, but a proposed decision on PG&E’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy by Administrative Law Judge Peter Allen, while recommending an overhaul of the company’s board, did not require the company to replace its entire board.
PG&E sought bankruptcy protection early last year as it faced billions of dollars in liability costs stemming from a series of catastrophic Northern California wildfires caused by its equipment in 2017 and 2018.
The company says it remains on track for confirmation of its plan of reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy by June 30, 2020. PG&E needs to exit bankruptcy by June 30 to qualify for coverage by a new wildfire insurance fund established by the California state legislature to help the state’s utilities pay liability costs from future fires. Without access to the fund, the company's financial viability would be jeopardized.