Business Briefs – December 14, 2017

California Wildfires Prompt Tougher Rules for Utilities

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Devastating California wildfires this year — and expectations of more to come under the extremes of climate change — prompted regulators Thursday to toughen rules for utility companies to keep power lines clear of brush and tree branches that can easily spark into flames.

Public Utilities Commission president Michael Picker called the regulations adopted unanimously by the board “a major rewrite” of the state’s fire-prevention rules for utilities as climate change drives up wildfire risks in much of California.

The board’s action comes as fire officials look for the causes of wildfires currently burning in Southern California, including a 380-square-mile fire that has become the fourth-largest in state history. The Los Angeles Times on Thursday quoted a witness as saying she saw arcing power lines throwing sparks at the scene of one of the fires in the San Fernando Valley.

Airbus Planemaking Chief Bregier to Step Down

PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus plane-making chief Fabrice Bregier is leaving the aerospace group after losing a long-running power battle with Chief Executive Tom Enders, three sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

He will be replaced at the helm of the main plane making division by Guillaume Faury, the 49-year-old head of Airbus Helicopters who is not however expected to inherit Bregier’s broader title as chief operating officer, they added.

Airbus declined to comment.

The shake-up, which was to be announced on Friday, was agreed at a board meeting on Thursday following weeks of tensions inside Europe’s largest aerospace group.

Former UAW Vice President Resigns From GM Board

(Detroit Free Press) – General Motors announced that Joe Ashton, a former United Auto Workers vice president, has resigned from the company’s board.

He joined the board in August 2014, nominated by the union’s Retiree Medical Benefits trust, which oversees the fund that pays for health insurance for UAW retirees from GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler. Ashton was a member of the UAW International staff from 1986 to 2014.

Ashton’s name emerged in November as being of interest to a federal investigation of corruption related to UAW training centers financed by GM, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler.

Ashton has not been accused of wrongdoing.