Judge Asked To Fine PG&E $112 Million For Carmel Blast

by Jaxon Van Derbeken, San Francisco Chronicle

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CPUC shield

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. should be fined nearly $112 million in connection with a natural-gas explosion that leveled a Carmel cottage and damaged three other homes in 2014, the safety division of the state Public Utilities Commission says.

“Protecting public safety mandates a substantial fine being applied to PG&E,” Ed Moldavsky, an attorney for the safety division, said Friday in urging administrative law Judge Maribeth Bushey to impose a $111.9 million fine against the company for its “deeply flawed” records and for allegedly failing to reveal a 12-year gap in pipeline repair documents.

It would be the second-largest penalty ever against PG&E for gas-related violations, behind the $1.6 billion that the commission imposed last year stemming from the 2010 explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people.

PG&E noted that it has already paid $10.8 million in fines for the March 3, 2014, blast in Carmel, after regulators found the company had failed to alert residents of the gas leak promptly and had handled the emergency poorly.

The company maintains it should not be penalized further, saying the safety division’s recommendation misinterprets “applicable regulations and the record in this proceeding, and (fails) to acknowledge the significant improvements PG&E has made to its distribution records.”

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