PJM Chair Responds To Public Citizen Criticisms Of Selection Of Former Direct Energy President As PJM CEO
December 19, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • email@example.com
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PJM Chairman of the Board, Ake Almgren, has written a letter to Tyson Slocum, Energy Program Director at Public Citizen, responding to criticisms of PJM's selection of Manu Asthana as PJM's new CEO
Asthana previously served as President of Direct Energy
In a December 12 letter to Almgren, Slocum, a member of PJM’s Public Interest & Environmental Organizations User Group, stated that he was "bewildered" by the selection of Asthana as CEO
Slocum alleged that Asthana's management at Direct Energy, "coincide[d] with a troubling record by the company engaging in predatory practices; ripping off household consumers; disconnecting families’ electricity service in violation of statues; and displaying callousness and showing no contrition for the harm imposed on customers."
Slocum cited a dozen examples, such as previously reported civil penalties and settlement agreements as well as lawsuits and other actions filed against Direct Energy during Asthana's time at the company, which Slocum alleged demonstrated, "egregious abuses against household consumers."
Slocum alleged, "Selecting an individual with management responsibilities from a company with this type of extensive, troubling track record of non-compliance with basic consumer protection laws is troubling."
"If PJM was fully aware of this history of Mr. Asthana’s company’s terrible track record, then stakeholders require an explanation of why he is now qualified to lead PJM," Slocum wrote
In a response to Slocum, PJM Chair Almgren explained PJM's search process, noting, "The PJM Board appointed three members to the CEO Search Committee to lead the selection process. The Search
Committee in turn retained Heidrick and Struggles, an executive search firm, to assist them during the selection
process. This was a thoughtful and deliberate search, which included participation by the full Board."
Almgren noted that the process, "included
a comprehensive background check of Mr. Asthana."
"Based on the Board’s review of the background check,
Mr. Asthana, while in a leadership role at Direct Energy, implemented organizational changes and addressed
practices that were viewed as misleading or unfair," Almgren wrote
"Be assured that the Board of Managers and Mr. Asthana are fully committed to PJM’s Core Values and Code of
Conduct. Mr. Asthana is a dedicated and conscientious leader and the Board is confident that he will operate in an
honest and trustworthy manner. The Board looks forward to welcoming Mr. Asthana on January 1, 2020 as PJM’s
new President and CEO," Almgren wrote
"Finally, the Board has taken several steps to strengthen its oversight of the organization and will ensure that PJM’s
culture of compliance is maintained," Almgren wrote