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California’s Governor Wants State-Appointed PG&E Board Members

Mark Chediak

(Bloomberg) -- California Governor Gavin Newsom wants PG&E Corp. to add state-appointed members to its board as part of the utility giant’s reorganization.

Newsom’s administration pushed for this, along with several other conditions, to be included in PG&E’s restructuring plan during a meeting on Wednesday with the company and other parties in its bankruptcy case. Newsom also wants a governance structure that would give these board members greater management authority over the utility if it fails to meet certain safety performance standards, the governor’s office said Wednesday.

The pressure on Newsom to force an overhaul at PG&E has escalated in recent weeks as the company plunged millions into darkness to keep its power lines from igniting wildfires. The company filed for Chapter 11 protection in January after its equipment was tied to a series of 2017 and 2018 blazes that left it with $30 billion in estimated liabilities.

Read More: PG&E Starts Restoring Power After Latest Deliberate Blackout

Earlier this month, Newsom threatened to take over PG&E if the company fails to emerge from bankruptcy by a state-imposed deadline of June 30, 2020, and improves its operations before next year’s wildfire season.

The company has struggled for months to come up with a restructuring plan that bondholders and wildfire victims are willing to sign off on. The judge overseeing its case ordered parties into mediation in an effort to speed up a settlement.

In the meeting on Wednesday, Newsom’s administration said it wants to leave the door open for a government takeover if it’s deemed necessary. The governor’s office said it's also seeking assurances that the utility will make safety investments without placing an undue burden on customers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Chediak in San Francisco at mchediak@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lynn Doan at ldoan6@bloomberg.net

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