PG&E has hired a new executive who will be in charge of turning around all gas operations in the wake of intense scrutiny following the Sept. 9 pipeline explosion in the Crestmoor neighborhood, the utility said today.
Nick Stavropoulos, who has been the executive vice president and chief operating officer for National Grid's gas distribution business, will serve as the executive vice president of gas operations and will report directly to Pacific Gas & Electric Co. President Chris Johns.
His main role will be to lead a number of improvements, including the upgrading and replacing of pipelines and revamping the utility’s operating policies and practices, PG&E said in a statement.
Stavropoulos will also lead PG&E's response to the ongoing investigations into the Sept. 9 disaster and will direct PG&E's team of gas experts in setting new standards for industry best safety practices. He is expected to start June 13.
“Nick is coming to PG&E with a mandate for change and a clear mission to overhaul the company's gas operations and bring them up to world-class safety and performance standards," said Lee Cox, interim CEO of PG&E Corp., the utility’s parent company. "This move puts all of the company's gas operations under a single executive with tremendous operations experience.”
Stavropoulos’ appointment is part of a recent shift PG&E has been making to improve its leadership following numerous flaws that have been discovered in the utility’s gas operations.
Last month, PG&E Corp. CEO Peter Darbee saying that “a change in leadership would create the best opportunity for PG&E to move ahead after a challenging year,” according to Cox.
COO John Keenan and Senior Vice President Edward Salas also resigned recently after the utility announced it was eliminating their positions and separating its gas and electric operations into two separate divisions.
Their resignations followed accusations from politicians and residents that PG&E has done a poor job of managing pipeline maintenance and has been concealing information about what equipment is being used to power the homes of customers.
Citing the need for PG&E to rebuild its reputation, California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey applauded the appointment.
“This action by PG&E appropriately elevates the importance of natural gas safety in the company,” Peevey said. “With this realignment and the appointment of an executive with many years of experience in gas operations, PG&E is demonstrating a renewed focus on safety and its customers.”