PG&E Calls $2.25B Fine for San Bruno Blast Excessive

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Aerial view of damage caused by a massive fire in San Bruno.

    The utility responsible for a deadly pipeline explosion in Northern California said Friday that the record $2.25 billion in fines being sought by state regulators is illegally excessive, but did not offer a specific dollar figure it considers reasonable.

    In a 103-page filing submitted just before the close of business, Pacific Gas & Electric said that it agrees with the California Public Utilities Commission's finding that a financial penalty is appropriate for the September 2010 explosion that killed eight people.

    CPUC Staff Suggests Record $2.25B Fine for San Bruno Blast

    [BAY] CPUC Staff Suggests Record $2.25B Fine for San Bruno Blast
    CPUC staff recommend the commission impose a $2.25 billion fine against PG&E for a deadly pipeline blast in San Bruno in 2010.Jean Elle gets reaction. (Published Monday, May 6, 2013)

    But the utility argued that its shareholders are already paying $2.2 billion in system upgrades and other improvements in response to the blast, and that any fines should be deducted from that amount.

    "PG&E has fully accepted moral and legal responsibility for this tragic accident,'' company lawyers wrote. "However, the proposed penalty of $2.25 billion ignores the fundamental truth of this tragedy: this accident was not the result of willful or knowing violations of state law, federal standards, or Commission orders, policies or directives.''

    San Bruno Family Say PG&E Proposed Fine Not High Enough

    [BAY] San Bruno Family Say PG&E Proposed Fine Not High Enough
    Rene Morales s daughter Jessica was killed in the San Bruno PG&E gas pipeline explosion. Two and a half years later Morales is paying close attention as regulators begin to consider the penalty PG&E will pay for the deadly incident. Jean Elle reports. (Published Monday, May 6, 2013)

    PG&E did not return a message seeking comment. CPUC judges are expected to decide later this year how much the company should be fined for safety violations that led to the explosion. In addition to causing the eight deaths, the rupture of a gas pipeline in the San Francisco Bay Area city of San Bruno sparked a fireball that also left dozens injured and destroyed 38 homes.

    Federal and state safety regulators have blamed the rupture on the failure of a decades-old faulty weld and PG&E's failure to conduct thorough inspections.

    Mindy Spatt, a spokeswoman for the Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco consumer advocacy group, said PG&E's proposal to apply its future safety upgrades toward its past failures amounted to the company "suggesting no penalties at all.''

    "It's an insult to the people of San Bruno and all of PG&E's customers,'' Spatt said. ``Every single investigation into this explosion have found PG&E responsible, yet PG&E has the nerve to say, `Why blame us?''' Connie Jackson, San Bruno's city manager, took issue with the utility's argument that the proposed fine is excessive.

    "What happened in San Bruno was excessive, as was the destruction created in our community,'' Jackson said.