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PG&E’s New CEO William Johnson Is All About Profits

Scott Deveau and Mark Chediak of Bloomberg report that PG&E is likely to sign Bill Johnson as its new CEO. Bill Johnson was most recently CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority, the large southeastern public utility. Critics are glad Johnson is now gone from the TVA because, they say, he consistently favored corporate interests over the public interest. They see Johnson’s departure as an opportunity to replace him with someone who will put the “public” back “public utility.

For the last six years, Bill Johnson has steered TVA in the direction of serving corporate interests over public interests, evident in preferential rates and rate restructuring for corporate customers which have caused residential and small businesses’ energy bills to rise. . . And TVA has been consistently opaque, hiding details about policy decisions from public scrutiny and being less transparent, as we saw with this week’s so-called listening session which was neither web-streamed nor held the same day as the board meeting itself.

And safety doesn’t exactly stand out on Johnson’s list of accomplishments. Just this past November, a federal jury slammed his utility for a contractor’s actions that killed more than 40 workers and sickened hundreds more.

But during his tenure at TVA, Johnson did indeed do wonders for the utility’s bottom line.

TVA earned more than $1.1 billion in net income in the fiscal year ended Sept. 30, up by more than 63 percent from the previous year . . . Net income was the second highest ever for TVA in its 85-year history during 2018, behind only the record high of $1.2 billion earned in 2016.

Make no mistake about it.  PG&E chose Johnson as its new leader hoping that he will be able to return it to profitability; not to make the utility safe.  Once again, PG&E is placing corporate profits over the safety of the public.

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