Pacific Gas & Electric agreed to pay $97.5 million in penalties under a settlement that puts to rest charges of prohibited secret communications between utility officials and state regulators.
The California Public Utilities Commission approved the agreement April 26.
“We hope PG&E will finally get the message that they have to play by the rules,” said Mark Toney, The Utility Reform Network executive director.
The utility said it would do just that.
PG&E will interact with regulators “in a transparent and ethical manner at all times,” it stated. If it fails to do so,“we hold ourselves accountable,” it added.
In addition to PG&E and TURN, the settling parties include the cities of San Bruno and San Carlos, the Office of Ratepayer Advocates and the CPUC Safety Enforcement Division.
Ex parte violations between the utility and CPUC officials came to light following a public records act request by the City of San Bruno after the September 2010 gas explosion and fire in the city that led to the loss of lives and homes.
Much of the penalty, $63.6 million, will be used to reduce gas rates via bill credits. The rest will be disbursed as follows:
- $11 million to the state general fund;
- $10 million to improve compliance with protective rules; and
- $12 million to the cities of San Bruno and San Carlos.