Grand Jury Probes PG&E’s Relationship With State Regulators

by Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

A federal grand jury is probing potentially illegal ties between Pacific Gas and Electric Co. executives and regulators with the California Public Utilities Commission, The Chronicle has learned.

The investigation is looking into “PG&E’s relationship” with state regulatory officials, according to a May 15 letter to the utility from federal prosecutors.

The probe is separate from the federal court case charging PG&E with violating pipeline safety laws and obstructing justice in connection with the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people. Prosecutors in that case are seeking more than $1 billion in fines from the company, but have not charged individual executives.

The latest grand jury investigation was opened after last year’s disclosure of e-mails between PG&E and the state utilities commission, which prompted probes by both state and federal prosecutors. Some of the e-mails showed a PG&E executive lobbying commissioners and their staffs for a preferred judge to oversee a $1.3 billion rate case. Others indicated that PG&E thought then-commission President Michael Peevey was dangling favorable state treatment in exchange for the utility’s backing for his pet fundraising and political causes.

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