NEW YORK (Reuters) - PG&E Corp is expected to name Bill Johnson as chief executive of the bankrupt California energy company facing $30 billion in wildfire liabilities, as soon as Wednesday, a source familiar with the private negotiations said on Tuesday.
Johnson, who has been the CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority since 2013 and is retiring on Friday, would not comment on the PG&E rumors.
A group of investors, including Knighthead Capital Management, Redwood Capital Management and Abrams Capital Management, have been pushing for Johnson to be hired.
Before joining TVA, Johnson was the chairman, president and CEO of Progress Energy from 2007-2012 before it merged with North Carolina rival Duke Energy Corp.
Another hedge fund, BlueMountain Capital Management, announced a slate of 13 directors.
Last week California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote to PG&E’s interim chief executive officer expressing concern about the company’s plans. He wrote, in a letter seen by Reuters, that he is “troubled to learn that PG&E is primed to reconstitute its board with hedge fund financiers, out-of-state executives and others with little or no experience in California and inadequate expertise in utility operations, regulation and safety.”
BlueMountain said last week that it has already proposed a slate of nominees with relevant safety, utility and clean energy expertise, as well as significant experience in the state of California. Its slate includes hedge fund manager Jeff Ubben, who is based in California, and former California Treasurer Phil Angelides.
PG&E faces crushing liabilities related to deadly wildfires in 2017 and 2018 that killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes.
A U.S. judge on Tuesday ordered PG&E not to pay shareholders dividends and instead use the money to fund its plan for cutting down trees to reduce the risk its equipment will spark more destructive wildfires in wooded areas of California.
Reporting by Scott DiSavino and Svea Herbst-Bayliss; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Diane Craft