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The next time you open up your utility bill, keep in mind: it's going to a good cause. Like the fines, fees and other penalties imposed on Pacific Gas & Electric Company for its role in the fatal Sept. 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion and fire.
PG&E expects to pay up to $200 million in fines for its role in the blast, which occurred after a faulty weld in a natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded, sending a giant fireball stories into the sky. Eight people died and 38 homes were destroyed.
The $200 million will go to state regulators, but much of it will come from PG&E's ratepayers -- that is, you and me and anyone else who uses electricity in much of northern California. PG&E has been instructed to construct a $2.2 billion pipeline improvement project, and has proposed billing $535 million to shareholders, with the rest coming from ratepayers, according to Bloomberg News.
State and federal regulators may fine PG&E as much as $1 billion more for the explosion, according to analysts.