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PG&E’s New Boss Is an Ex-Climate Denier Now Tackling Warming

In an interview, Patricia Poppe said the utility is good at responding to disasters— and is improving its prevention of them.

Patti Poppe

Patti Poppe

Photographer: Aaron M. Sprecher/Bloomberg

PG&E Corp.’s new chief executive officer, Patricia Poppe, once doubted the reality of climate change. Now, it may shape her fate.

The state her electric utility serves, California, is growing hotter and drier, and it frequently catches on fire. Too often, PG&E’s power lines have provided the spark. Years of deadly blazes triggered by the company’s equipment leveled neighborhoods from Napa Valley to the Sierra Nevada foothills and finally drove PG&E into bankruptcy in 2019. To get back out, PG&E had to pay $25.5 billion in lawsuit settlements—and sell its historic San Francisco headquarters to raise cash.