Updated at 8:50 p.m. on Wednesday, April 3, 2019.
TVA President Bill Johnson has been picked to head California's biggest electric utility out of bankruptcy.
Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. announced Wednesday that Johnson, the 65-year-old head of the Tennessee Valley Authority for the past six years, was selected as PG&E's next CEO and will take control of the San Francisco-based utility "as soon as practicable."
PG&E filed for bankruptcy in January after being blamed for $30 billion in liabilities from California wildfires its equipment may have ignited. PG&E has been looking for a new leader since Geisha Williams resigned as CEO just prior to the company's bankruptcy filing.
Along with the hiring of Johnson, PG&E announced plans to add 10 new directors to its board.
"We have heard the calls for change and have taken action today to ensure that PG&E has the right leadership to bring about real and dynamic change that reinforces our commitment to safety, continuous improvement and operational excellence," the PG&E board said in an announcement Wednesday night. "We believe our new CEO and the newly constituted board will help PG&E address California's evolving energy challenges and deliver what our customers expect from their energy company."
Johnson said he had planned to retire after heading both Progress Energy and TVA, but he said last month he felt he could contribute to helping turn around PG&E, which is nearly twice the size of TVA.
"The 24,000 employees of PG&E are clearly dedicated to this state and are determined to provide safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy to 16 million Californians," Johnson said in a statement. "I am humbled to take on this new challenge and am dedicated to meeting the high expectations that our customers, regulators and legislators have for PG&E. While the challenges facing PG&E and California are significant, by working together, we will overcome them to serve the best interests of our customers, their families and the communities we serve."
During Johnson's tenure at TVA, he cut more than 2,000 TVA jobs while becoming the highest paid federal employee in America with an annual compensation package that topped $6 million and while he purchased two corporate jets to help shuttle TVA executives around the Valley while he was CEO.
But Johnson also helped trim operating expenses by more than $800 million to help stabilize rates over the past six years. By closing aging coal plants and finishing Watts Bar Nuclear Plant Unit 2, Johnson also helped cut TVA carbon emissions nearly in half.
"We believe Mr. Johnson is the right leader for PG&E as we work to strengthen our safety culture and navigate a complex and challenging period in our company's history," the PG&E board said in a statement.