PG&E CEO Johnson to step down in June

Pacific Gas & Electric chief executive William Johnson announced Wednesday that he will retire on June 30.

His exit will come on the same day that the energy company is set to emerge from the $51.69 billion bankruptcy that resulted from several deadly wildfires for which PG&E was assigned responsibility.

“I joined PG&E to help get the company out of bankruptcy and stabilize operations,” said Johnson in a statement. “By the end of June, I expect that both of these goals will have been met.”

Johnson took on the role in 2019, shortly after the utility filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the beginning of the year.

The several wildfires caused by PG&E’s equipment include 2015 fires in Amador County and Calaveras County, a 2017 fire in North Bay Wine Country and the Camp Fire in 2018 in Butte County.

Current PG&E board member and retired president of AT&T Technology Operations and AT&T Services Will iam Smith will take over as interim CEO.

PG&E’s hopes of financial stability hinge on whether or not it can emerge from bankruptcy by June 30, which would make the utility eligible for the state’s wildfire insurance fund.

On May 21, the Public Utilities Commission is set to make a decision on PG&E’s plan to emerge from bankruptcy. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali will also have to approve the plan, which was negotiated with California Governor Gavin Newsom.

The utility – which also has $35 billion in debts – is scheduled to plead guilty to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter from the Camp Fire, and the bankruptcy court is set to confirm the plan on May 27.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at