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PG&E’s top boss harvests total exec pay that tops $50 million

PG&E’s top boss captured a total pay package in 2021 that topped $50 million at a time when the embattled utility remained under scrutiny for a decade of disasters linked to catastrophic wildfires and explosions.

Patricia Poppe, chief executive officer with PG&E, harvested $51.2 million in total direct compensation last year, according to documents filed on Thursday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

By comparison, the average salary for chief executive officers of the companies that make up the S&P 500 Index was $15.5 million in 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, according to a survey by Executive Paywatch, a union-crafted website.

Over the last 10 years, starting in September 2010, PG&E’s equipment has caused a fatal gas explosion in San Bruno and also has been linked to a string of lethal wildfires in Northern California.

Patricia Poppe, currently PG&E chief executive officer, as seen in 2011 when Poppe was a vice president with Consumers Energy in Michigan. (Nick Dentamaro/Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP)

Among the fatal incidents in the last decade:

— In 2010, a PG&E gas pipeline ruptured and unleashed a fireball that killed eight people and destroyed a San Bruno neighborhood.

— 2015 Butte Fire in Amador County and Calaveras County killed two. The cause was contact between a tree and a PG&E power line.

— 2017 Wine Country fires. PG&E equipment was linked to multiple fatal fires in a series of infernos.

— 2018 Camp Fire in Butte County. PG&E equipment was determined to be the cause of the deadly wildfire that killed 85 people and destroyed the town of Paradise.

— 2021 Dixie Fire in Butte, Plumas, Lassen, Shasta and Tehama counties. PG&E equipment was found to be the cause of the enormous blaze that became California’s second-largest wildfire.

Poppe’s $51.2 million total pay package was enriched primarily by $41.2 million in awards of stock, the annual SEC filing shows. The PG&E CEO also was awarded a bonus of $6.6 million and a base salary of $1.3 million.


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