PG&E Fires Executive For Wine Outing Ahead Of Power Shutoff

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October 17, 2019 - 1:36 pm
Pacific Gas & Electric crews work on October 09, 2019 in Vallejo, California. PG&E plans on cutting power to hundreds of thousands of customers across central and northern California as a precaution against starting wildfires.

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A PG&E executive has been fired after entertaining the company’s top customers at a Sonoma winery in a poorly timed event just before power was cut to customers across the Bay Area and Northern California. 

Mel Christopher was PG&E’s top gas executive, in charge of the Natural Gas Division. He and about 10 peers were eating and drinking with clients at Sonoma’s Silver Oak Winery. 

In a statement, PG&E CEO Bill Johnson said the timing and location of that event was “insensitive,” “inappropriate” and “tone deaf."

The client dinner at the winery also coincided with the second anniversary of fires swept through wine country. Several of the fires were caused by PG&E's equipment, according to investigators. 

“Customers should not be surprised to learn that PG&E executives are living high on the hog, and he’s certainly not the only one,” said Mindy Spatt, spokesperson for the Utility Reform Network. “We’re talking about executives who get multimillion dollar pay packages for running a company that seems to screw up everything.”

Reporting by Jim Taylor