New Edison Board Chair Talks Priorities, Direction
As members of a Southern California Edison crew work on an underground vault in Ontario, the tight working space includes a guest: Peter Taylor, new independent chair of Edison International’s board of directors.
A board member since 2011, Taylor enjoys visiting employees who are working every day to keep the lights on for the utility’s 15 million customers. He has visited the Big Creek hydroelectric plant, recently stopped by a peaker plant in Rancho Cucamonga and will head over to the decommissioning San Onofre nuclear plant in June.
“A map is not the service area, nor is it the white papers. There is nothing like talking to the people who are working to keep the lights on,” said Taylor, who assumed the board chair position on April 28 at the Annual Meeting of Shareholders. “As board members, we read a lot of reports and slides, but mirroring that with conversations on the ground, you get a real feel for how the organization works and can provide better strategic direction.”
With safety as a top priority for the company, Taylor, who is a previous member of Edison’s Safety and Operations Committee, sees firsthand how dangerous electrical work can be and is proud of the company’s commitment to making sure employees go home safely each night to their families.
“Our leadership at Edison looks at safety incidents and they learn from it,” said Taylor. “I’m proud of the measures the company takes to ensure safety is top of mind at every level, from workers out in the field to company leadership.”
Peter Taylor (left), new independent chair of Edison International’s board of directors, and Pedro J. Pizarro, Edison International president and CEO, at the April 28 Annual Meeting of Shareholders.
“Peter has been an integral member of our board for more than a decade helping further our safety journey, our focus on DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion), our clean energy strategy and our resolve to mitigate wildfire risk,” said Pedro J. Pizarro, president and CEO of Edison International. “He lives our company values and I look forward to working with him more closely as he takes on the important role of board chair.”
Taylor has had an accomplished career in finance and education, having previously served as executive vice president and chief financial officer for the University of California system. From 2006-2008, he was chair of the UCLA Task Force on African American Admissions, Recruitment and Retention.
Since 2014, Taylor has been president of the ECMC Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds. He believes in the importance of career and technical education opportunities and was proud to see Edison International launch its Lineworker Scholarship program last year, which is currently focused on Black applicants. The inaugural cohort of 11 scholarship winners is currently training at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College as they near graduation this summer.
“At Edison, there are great job opportunities and we want to expand these opportunities to those who have traditionally been underserved,” he said. “We want to diversify the pipeline of people coming into the company and Edison has made forward progress in this area.”
As Taylor discusses the company’s priorities, his daughter enters his home office with his 2-year-old granddaughter in tow. She wants to give her grandfather a hug and a kiss before she heads out. The family’s second daughter is expecting another grandchild any day now, so family life has been a bit hectic.
Peter has been an integral member of our board for more than a decade helping further our safety journey, our focus on DEI, our clean energy strategy and our resolve to mitigate wildfire risk. He lives our company values and I look forward to working with him more closely as he takes on the important role of board chair.”Pedro J. Pizarro, Edison International President and CEO
But without missing a beat, Taylor is back to the topic of clean energy, something he has been passionate about for many years. He owns an electric car and, as an SCE customer, he closely monitors the rates he pays for his electricity.
“Edison is smack dab in the middle of the clean energy discussion,” said Taylor, noting that any discussion around the state’s public policy space must involve Edison International. “We need to help the state be successful and also inform the discussions effectively so that final policies do not negatively impact our customers.”
And as California’s year-round wildfire season continues to be impacted by climate change, he notes that vegetation management, installing covered conductor and Public Safety Power Shutoffs are part of Edison’s aggressive approach to mitigating wildfires.
“We have been forced to pivot, to ensure that the grid is adaptable,” he said. “Fifteen years ago, these challenges did not exist. We are working to protect our customers and to protect our investors. This will be a topic for the foreseeable future.”
As he assumes his new role as Edison International’s board chair, Taylor is honored to be at a company that for more than 135 years has learned to pivot and adjust with the best interest of stakeholders in mind.
“Edison has such a good reputation, is well run and ethical,” he said. “They focus on doing the right thing. I am energized by that.”