The California Public Utilities Commission instituted both a forward-looking docket to evaluate future natural gas pipeline safety and a hindsight investigation that may result in penalties Feb 24. The regulatory movement was sparked by last year\u2019s Pacific Gas & Electric pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight. Both the California commission and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the blast. For the future, regulators opened an investigation for comment and testimony about what can be done to ensure the safety of natural gas transmission and distribution pipelines operated by all of the state\u2019s investor-owned utilities. The commission also opened a formal investigation that could lead to potential penalties for Pacific Gas & Electric related to its past complicance with safety regulations both in San Bruno and in previous incidents. \u201c[We\u2019re looking into] whether PG&E broke laws or rules,\u201d said commissioner Mike Florio. Penalties can accrue to $20,000 per incidence, per day, according to the commission. PG&E is supportive of the CPUC\u2019s goals, said Joe Molica, utility spokesperson. In addition to penalties for PG&E, the commission may consider lowering utility rates of return on future gas safety investments at the same time it considers increasing the allowable amount of ratepayer investment into upgrading infrastructure. Another possibility is to require use of some shareholder money for the investments. \u201cThese are unique and extraordinary circumstances,\u201d Florio said in explaining why such ratemaking techniques may be warranted--\u201dnot business as usual.\u201d Commissioner Tim Simon supported the rulemaking. \u201cWe will establish a new model for pipeline regulation,\u201d Simon said. Federal regulators at the National Transportation Safety Board are also set to renew investigation into the San Bruno explosion, as well as other natural gas pipeline problems across the nation. The federal agency investigates, but cannot impose changes, said NTSB chair Deborah Hersman Feb 24. Federal hearings begin March 1.