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PG&E executives retire as wildfire liability crisis grows

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PG&E executives retire as wildfire liability crisis grows

Three vice presidents who oversee transmission for Pacific Gas and Electric Co. are retiring, as the company faces billions of dollars in potential liabilities from catastrophic wildfires in which utility lines are suspected or have been implicated as ignition sources.

The PG&E Corp. subsidiary announced the departure of Patrick Hogan, the utility's senior vice president of electric operations, who will be replaced by Michael Lewis, effective Jan. 8. Hogan will retire on Jan. 28. Lewis was promoted from his former post as PG&E's vice president of electric distribution operations, which he had held since August 2018, according to the company's web site.

Kevin Dasso, vice president of electric asset management, and Gregg Lemler, vice president of electric transmission, are also retiring. A PG&E utility spokesman confirmed by email that Lemler and Dasso will retire in January, saying that Lewis has named interim leaders and will review the structure of his organization in the coming weeks.

In his new role, Lewis will oversee all of the utility's electric transmission and distribution grid operations, including wildfire prevention and response efforts, grid resiliency initiatives, system-wide vegetation management and emergency preparedness and response efforts, PG&E said.

"His priorities will be to further improve how we deliver safe electricity, address growing threats from wildfire and our changing climate, and reinforce and mature our safety-first mindset and culture," said PG&E Corp. CEO and President Geisha Williams.

The company's board of directors also said it will make changes "to reinforce the company's commitment to safety and improvement," including searching for new directors of both the holding company and the utility.

PG&E Corp.'s stock price continued to fall Jan. 8, closing at $17.56 per share after S&P Global Ratings downgraded the companies's credit rating from investment grade to speculative, saying the political and regulatory landscape for helping the companies cover potentially massive wildfire liabilities was eroding. PG&E's shares have lost 64% of their value since Nov. 7, 2018.