CPUC Pitches Independent State Monitor for PG&E

By Published On: June 15, 2021

The California Public Utilities Commission plans to replace the outgoing federal monitor, who is keeping tabs on Pacific Gas & Electric compliance with safety and reliability laws, regulations, and protocols, with a state monitor next year. In light of the utility’s numerous violations over the last several years, an ongoing safety monitor was required as part of PG&E’s bankruptcy reorganization plan, approved almost a year ago.


The CPUC proposes selecting a state monitor at a cost of $5 million per year to be paid by PG&E shareholders over five years, and potentially longer.


“By creating an Independent Safety Monitor, the CPUC is enhancing its oversight of PG&E to ensure the utility focuses on long-term outcomes that promote safety and reliability,” according to the proposed CPUC resolution released June 11. The monitor will oversee PG&E’s risk reduction work on its gas and electric systems, the safety of its power shutoffs, and adequacy of previously shoddy record keeping.


The federal monitor’s oversight expires Jan. 26, 2022.


In late February 2017, a federal monitor was appointed by the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California for a five-year term after PG&E was convicted of half a dozen felonies, including obstructing the federal investigation of the deadly blast of PG&E’s San Bruno gas line. That pipeline exploded Sept. 9, 2010, killing eight people, injuring 58 and destroying 38 homes. Subsequently, PG&E was found to have sparked fires in 2017 and the court expanded the monitor’s responsibilities to oversee the utility’s fire reduction efforts. Two years, later PG&E was found to have failed to remove dangerous trees near high-risk fire lines.


The proposed CPUC resolution may be voted on at the July 15 Commission meeting.


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