Chief of California Public Utilities Commission Should Resign: San Bruno Mayor

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The mayor of San Bruno said Monday the head of the state’s public utility commission cannot be trusted and should resign. NBC Bay Area's Mark Matthews reports from the Peninsula with new information. (Published Monday, Jul 28, 2014)

The mayor of San Bruno said Monday the head of the state’s public utility commission cannot be trusted.

The mayor held a news conference Monday morning to talk about a raft of e-mails the city has obtained that show a cozy relationship between Pacific Gas and Electric Company and the California Public Utilities Commission. The mayor said the CPUC is supposed to be regulating the utility.

The courthouse in Redwood City was the venue for the latest in the long battle over PG&E’s deadly 2010 pipeline explosion and fire in San Bruno. Lawyers were in court Monday hoping to hold PG&E executives accountable for the explosion.

On the steps of the the CPUC headquarters in San Francisco, the mayor of San Bruno called for the CPUC’s chief to resign.

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"The city of San Bruno has obtained 7,000 pages of e-mails that demonstrate the CPUC process is corrupted," Mayor Jim Ruane said.

San Bruno’s mayor said the city got the e-mails by suing the CPUC after the 2010 explosion and fire in San Bruno that killed eight and destroyed 38 homes. What the emails revealed was that executives at PG&E repeatedly asked the brass at the CPUC for help relating to the San Bruno investigation

"Over the past 36 months, PG&E has made illegal efforts to influence the CPUC decision makers to protect the utility’s financial interests," Ruane said.

In one e-mail, the chief of staff to CPUC President Mike Peevey suggested PG&E could dodge a public information request by sending back a sweet note and waiting for the requester to throw a fit, or answer a simple question and object to the others.

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A PG&E’s spokesman responded with this:

"We are going to work on it as fast as we possibly can, and as soon as we do, we’ll know exactly what what we do need to do because it’s critical that everybody operates in an ethical manner," Greg Snapper said. "On its face, reading the emails, does it appear to you that they acted in an ethical manner? This is not rocket science. These are emails. It’s important that everybody conduct themselves professionally and follow the ethical standards that we hold for every employee, and after we do a through review, we’ll be able to tell exactly what kind of actions are necessary."

The mayor of San Bruno said he does not need to wait.

"Today, we announce an important series of actions against the California Public Utilities Commission and PG&E," Ruane said.

Over the past 36 months, PG&E has made illegal efforts to influence the CPUC decision makers to protect the utility’s financial interests

San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane

The mayor said he wants the PG&E executives to resign, and he is calling for the president of the CPUC to step down, and if he does not, the mayor is calling on the governor to fire Peevey.

The CPUC issued a statement saying it takes seriously all allegations of bias and rule violations and will evaluate.

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