PG&E seeks to make changes to its board

(Reuters) – PG&E Corp (PCG.N), the electricity provider in the northern California region ravaged by a deadly wildfire, said it was searching for new directors at its holding company and its utility subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

A PG&E truck carrying an American Flag drives past PG&E repair trucks in Paradise, California, U.S. November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage

The fire broke out on the morning of Nov. 8 near the Northern California mountain community of Paradise, sweeping through the town and killing at least 86 people in the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history. PG&E had reported equipment problems near the origin of the fire around the time it began.

PG&E faces billions of dollars of potential liabilities related to the wildfires if an investigation determines its equipment caused them.

PG&E, whose shares have lost nearly half of their value since the wildfire, said it is working with a leading search firm to identify new directors and is interviewing several candidates.

A company spokeswoman said no decision has been made on whether to increase the size of the board or to replace existing members.

PG&E said it is reviewing structural options to implement necessary changes while meeting customer and operational needs.

“The board is actively assessing PG&E’s operations, finances, management, structure, and governance,” the company said.

The company said it has formed a special board committee that includes independent experts to advise on wildfire safety best practices.

Earlier last month, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) opened a proceeding to consider penalties against the company, ordering immediate action against the utility for falsifying safety documents for natural gas pipelines.

The San Francisco Chronicle in December reported that California state Senator Bill Dodd called for a management shakeup at PG&E in light of the CPUC findings.

Dodd said findings of the regulator showed that the utility and its parent company, PG&E, need “systematic change,” including on its board of directors “and in the executive suite,” the newspaper had reported.

Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel

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