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PG&E CEO Embraced Move to Deregulation

April 07, 2001|From Reuters

SAN FRANCISCO — For most of its 96 years as one of California's largest corporations, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has tapped lifetime employees to fill key positions and, for the select few, the chief executive's office.

Robert Glynn is one of the few "outsiders" to ascend to the top job in the company that traces its roots back to Gold Rush days.

On Friday, the giant San Francisco-based utility made the blockbuster announcement that it is seeking protection in Bankruptcy Court.

Glynn, 57, a native of Orange, N.J., came to PG&E in 1984, already a veteran of the utility business--eight years as an engineer at Long Island Lighting Co. and 12 years with Woodward-Clyde Consultants, which specializes in the power industry.

He moved quickly through early assignments in PG&E's hydroelectric department and soon headed up that major unit.

Glynn's early days at the utility were marked by a heated internal debate over the company's future in a monopolistic industry, PG&E veterans recall.

Some officers strongly resisted the move toward deregulation in the early 1990s. Glynn was among those who embraced it, seeing new opportunities.

"He took the lead," says a former colleague.

Glynn was elected president and chief operating officer of PG&E in 1995 and began preparing for the next step--formation of a holding company to oversee the company's move into new lines of business.

The new PG&E Corp. would build power plants in other states, market specialized energy services to business and industry, trade gas and electricity throughout North America and have a brief fling at overseas markets.

"Glynn saw this as the logical step forward and he wasn't encumbered by a lot of PG&E history . . . ," the former colleague said.

"It's more than ironic, however, that early success became a bankruptcy petition," he said.

When PG&E Corp. was formed in January 1997 as the utility's holding company, Glynn became president and chief operating officer. He added the CEO title six months later and was elected chairman in 1998.

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