(Bloomberg) -- PG&E Corp. named Andrew Vesey to run its utility unit, the largest in California, filling a role that’s been empty for a year.
Vesey will become president and take on the additional title of chief executive officer of Pacific Gas & Electric Co., with more than 5.4 million electric customers and 4.5 million natural gas customers, according to a statement Tuesday. Vesey stepped down as CEO of Australia’s AGL Energy Ltd. in 2018 after a four-year tenure in the wake of clashes with the nation’s government on his efforts to close a coal-fired power plant.
Starting Aug. 19, Vesey will report to PG&E’s board and take direction from Bill Johnson, who was named CEO of the utility’s parent company in April. PG&E’s utility unit has been without a president since Nickolas Stavropoulos retired in August 2018. Those duties have been shared since April by three executives, according to a company proxy statement.
PG&E rose 3.1% to $17.27 at 9:58 a.m. in New York.
PG&E is seeking to regain public trust after filing for bankruptcy in January. The company faced an estimated $30 billion in liabilities from deadly wildfires that swept through the state. They include the Camp Fire in 2018, which authorities have blamed on PG&E’s electrical equipment.
Vesey, a native New Yorker, abruptly left AGL last August after the Sydney-based company clashed with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s government over a plan to retire a coal-fired plant and replace it with renewable energy. Turnbull had urged AGL to consider options to keep the plant running.
Like California, Australia has also grappled with the growing risk of wildfires linked to climate change.
Shares of AGL, which serves about 3.7 million electric and natural gas customers, rose more than a third under Vesey’s leadership. Vesey is also the former chief operating officer of power generator AES Corp. and previously was employed by Entergy Corp., Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. and Consolidated Edison Inc.
On Monday, PG&E said it expects to file its plan for reorganization with the bankruptcy court by Sept. 9 and sees emerging from Chapter 11 protection by May 1.
--With assistance from Brian Eckhouse and Christopher Martin.
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