PG&E Faces $16M for 2008 Gas Explosion

By Published On: November 28, 2010

Pacific Gas & Electric could be fined up to $16 million in penalties for a gas pipeline explosion in Rancho Cordova that occurred Dec. 24, 2008. It killed one person and injured five others. Meanwhile, investigations into the root cause of the September PG&E gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno continue. “As with our ongoing examination of the San Bruno explosion, this phase of our investigation of the terrible December 2008 incident in Rancho Cordova will ascertain whether PG&E violated rules and regulations and if management policies and practices contributed to violations of law and the loss of life,” stated California Public Utilities Commission president Mike Peevey. In a closed-door session, the commission Nov. 19 voted to investigate the issue and consider issuing penalties on PG&E for the Rancho Cordova explosion. The commission’s decision came more than six months after a federal report charged that the utility installed an improper pipe and its response was deficient. Daily fines of up to $20,000 could be levied between September 15, 2006--the time the nonconforming pipe was installed-- and the Christmas Eve 2008 accident. The utility is “committed to fully cooperating with the CPUC in its investigation,” stated Ed Salas, PG&E senior vice president of engineering and operations. He added that the company “put into place a number of improvements to our practices and procedures since the accident.” PG&E was ordered to file by Dec. 17 a motion for a protective order if it is to seek blacking out parts of the commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division’s report assessing the two-year-old explosion. The same day, the outgoing Senate majority leader Dean Florez (D-Shafter) charged that PG&E reneged on its promise to openly share information detailing events surrounding the recent San Bruno explosion. Florez in a Nov. 19 letter to Peter Darbee, PG&E Corp. chief executive officer, said the utility documents sent to his office “appear to fail to answer questions or the answers are too deeply buried that we are unable to detect the answers.” PG&E plans to respond “in the coming days” to Florez, said Katie Romans, utility spokesperson. She added that PG&E received 1,400 requests, including the ones from Florez, the CPUC, and others seeking information about the San Bruno explosion.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now