- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 27, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Pacific Gas & Electric will be looking for a new director as the man who led the company through a deadly 2010 pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area is retiring.

Christopher P. Johns has announced plans to retire at the end of the year.

In announcing the retirement of Johns in a statement Tuesday, the utility praised his leadership and service.

PG&E; Chairman and CEO Tony Earley said the board of directors is likely to discuss a replacement plan before Johns’ last day, December 31.

Johns joined PG&E; in 1996 as vice president and controller, becoming president of the state’s largest utility in August 2009.

In 2010, a natural gas pipeline explosion rocked San Bruno, a suburb of San Francisco, killing eight people and destroying more than three dozen homes.

The explosion resulted in a record $1.6 billion state penalty against the company earlier this year, which PG&E; accepted without appeal.

A federal investigation after the blast faulted both PG&E; and lax oversight by the state utilities commission in the explosion.

PG&E; is under state and federal criminal investigation related to backroom dealings between state regulators and company officials.

The company’s statement did not give a reason for the retirement, and a company spokeswoman had no immediate comment.

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