PG&E head to resign amid setbacks

April 21, 2011

Following a rocky year and mounting public pressure from some pubic officials and consumer advocates, PG&E Chief Executive Officer Peter Darbee announces he is stepping down.  [SanFranciscoChronicle]

San Luis Obispo County’s largest employer confirmed that its chairman will retire April 30 and will be temporarily replaced by PG&E board member Lee Cox, retired vice chairman of AirTouch Communications Inc., who will serve in the interim until a permanent CEO is hired.

The utility giant has suffered a series of public relations crises within the last year, starting with the Sept. 9, 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion that killed eight people and incinerated a neighborhood, followed by customer backlash against its new wireless SmartMeters, and most recently questions of the seismic safety of its Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in light of the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan following the natural disasters there.

“Over the past year, our company has faced difficult challenges that have diminished confidence in PG&E among some of our customers, regulators and others,” Darbee wrote in an e-mail to PG&E staff today.

“By creating the opportunity for a new CEO to address these challenges from a fresh starting point, my decision to retire is aimed at helping PG&E turn the page and carry on with the work we are doing to become a safer, stronger company,” Darbee continued. “It also demonstrates to customers, regulators and others the extent and the sincerity of our commitment to regaining confidence in our company.”

Darbee joined PG&E in 1999 and soon after gained national recognition for being one of the first energy executives to advocate for legislation that would combat climate change.
He departs with a total retirement package of $34.7 million, according to a document the company filed with federal regulators last month.


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16 Comments

  1. Typoqueen says:

    WOW oh WOW! 34. WHAT! White collar thug. Does anyone know how much PG&E paid in taxes last year? My gosh when I think of how much my electricity bills are every month this just makes me want to vomit!!! The old movies with that depict the mobsters acting as loan sharks with outrages extortion rates have nothing on these big corps.

    (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down
    • knowitall says:

      Why attack the corporation? Sounds like you have a problem with the US tax code.

      Why don’t you get yourself some solar panels? Or do you like playing the helpless victim?

      (-4) 8 Total Votes - 2 up - 6 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        If I made 34 mil or for that matter if I made even a fraction of that then I would have solar panels. Why attack the corp,,,are you kidding me!! I have every right to attack them. They are charging us an arm and a leg for power. Unless we are well off financially we have no choice, I can’t go shopping around to other utility companies to find a different company. If one is fortunate enough to be able to be off the grid then the value of our home decreases. They have a monopoly and we HAVE to have electricity. We are all helpless victims to this scam. So you don’t mind that you probably pay more taxes than multi million dollar corps ie GE, Exxon etc.? You think it’s fair that these big corp pigs make so much money while not paying their fair share while charging the poor and middle class exorbitant fees? Wow, you are a generous person. I don’t feel like we owe it to these people by paying for them (taxes) so they can ripe us off by over charging us.

        Poor argument on your side.

        (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  2. WiseGuy says:

    The guy gets TENS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS for work that plenty of people could and would do every bit as well for a tiny fraction of that amount.

    The only justification for such outrageous, insane salaries is that “other CEOs get just as much or more.”

    Well, first of all, our society is insane and out of control, with great lapses of morality and common sense. Second of all, PG&E is a PUBLIC utility and thus is a virtual monopoly, AND the public, if they were given the choice, would NEVER allow for such insane and unnecessarily high salaries.

    (10) 14 Total Votes - 12 up - 2 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      There needs to be an economic revolution. These big white collar thieves have all the power and I don’t see how we can get some of that power back. They are running this country. Micheal Moore was right, this country isn’t broke. The top earners ie Darbee have all of OUR money!

      I don’t understand why everyone, even those on opposite party lines can’t get together on this issue and change this horrible mess that we’ve gotten into. You’re right, this is simply immoral.

      (4) 8 Total Votes - 6 up - 2 down
      • knowitall says:

        You two are pathetic boo hooing whiners. You blame the successful as if they’re holding a gun to your head. “OUR money?” You gave it to them freely. What kind economic revolution are you hoping for? One were the government gives you money you don’t have to work for?

        (-4) 12 Total Votes - 4 up - 8 down
        • hotdog says:

          Pretty much have a gun to our heads. Can’t live without electrons flowing freely, solar is a hassle for the modest of means. This modern day outlaw should be flogged in the park and sent off naked to wander the forests forever. Where do you figure his outlandish bonus comes from? Duh, from us. We have no choice, so it is the ‘gun to the head’. All the skullduggery (money grubbing)is aimed at the bottom, where we are. We supply the trillions for the rich and corporations to skim off, while paying only a pittance to the crooked politicians who keep giving away our rights to the barons. And the propaganda machine keeps spilling out legions of folks like you to prop up the heartless bastards at the top, making it look like some citizens actually agree with this theft of the nation.
          Knowit, unless you are rich and crooked, you have no business speaking up for those dirtbags, you are their victim just as we all are.

          (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
          • knowitall says:

            I know people who pay PG&E as little as $20/month and as much as $450/month without solar. You have a choice. Believe it or not, there are people all over the world that still live without electricity.

            You guys have it wrong. You should be angry with the CPUC. They’re the ones who set PG&E’s rates.

            (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
            • hotdog says:

              Right on. I sent them an angry note about this. Did anyone else do that?

              (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
            • Typoqueen says:

              “You have a choice. Believe it or not, there are people all over the world that still live without electricity”.

              Well, it might just come to that, many of us might just have to resort to 3rd world living conditions if this spiral out of control take over by the wealthy keeps going the way it is. But I do believe that there are ordinances that require people to have electricity…might be wrong but I do believe that’s the case.

              (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
              • knowitall says:

                Why would you make a comment like that without doing a quick google search first.

                (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
                • Typoqueen says:

                  Not enough time and so what. It wasn’t the main point of my post which seems to have gone over your head.

                  (-2) 4 Total Votes - 1 up - 3 down
  3. hotdog says:

    WHAT?????????? ‘departs with a total retirement package of $34.7 million’!!! Christ, the outrages never stop. Guess who is paying for that, us!

    (12) 16 Total Votes - 14 up - 2 down
  4. bobfromsanluis says:

    Wow, it must be nice to take your company down towards the abyss by funding an ill-fated ballot measure, be in charge when your aging gas pipelines explode killing nine people and destroying some thirty homes and you cannot produce the maintenance records, you also continue installing a new “smart meter” technology that has many serious scientific questions about E.M.F. problems, safety concerns about those meters causing fires and the potential for data to be stolen from your wireless network , then a 9.0 earthquake happens near Japan creating a huge tsunami that kills many thousands AND cripples a nuclear power plant so you have your company go ahead with applying for licensing renewal even though a new 3-D seismic mapping technology is being used to address your own nuclear power plant and hasn’t finished the job yet, so you walk away with 34.7 MILLION dollars as a retirement package; damn. I’m kind of surprised you didn’t say: “So long suckers, good luck!”

    (20) 24 Total Votes - 22 up - 2 down
  5. danika says:

    “It also demonstrates to customers, regulators and others the extent and the sincerity of our commitment to regaining confidence in our company.”

    Uh…no, it does not. Just because you say it, doesn’t make it so.

    Owning up to San Bruno in any and all financial way possible, Smart Meter replacement free of charge for those who strongly oppose them, and suspend the relicensing of DC until the results are in from the seismic study would “demonstrate to customers, regulators and others the extend and the sincerity of our commitment to regaining confidence”. Or at least be a very good start…

    (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
    • amusselm says:

      Every time I hear someone complaining about the safety of smart meters, I just sigh and ignore everything else they say. This goes doubly so for people who use their cell phones to call a radio program to complain about it. Which, in this case is too bad, because they do make some fair points. Is ANY CEO really worth a 32 Million dollar retirement package?

      On an interesting side note, the pipeline at San Bruno was designed to have all of the seams welded both on the inside and on the outside. They only welded the outside of pipeline. This created a stress riser, which was subject to fatigue as the pipeline expanded and contracted with changing pressures and temperatures. In time, this fatigue resulted in the failure of the joint, much like what happens if you repeatedly bend a paper-clip back and forth.

      (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down

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