PG&E Could Face Steep Fines For Banned Exchanges With Regulators
by Rebecca Bowe, KQED
PG&E could face penalties for violations concerning ex parte communications — private exchanges between utility representatives and regulators that had the potential to impact major decisions before the commission in recent years.
One item of business flagged by the commission was an investigation launched in the aftermath of the deadly September 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion. Another case concerned a commission decision to award millions to PG&E as a reward for satisfying energy-efficiency goals, even though consumer advocates argued that the company hadn’t successfully hit the targets needed to reap financial rewards under the incentive program.
PG&E could either be sanctioned for engaging in ex parte exchanges that are banned under commission rules, or for failing to record legitimate private talks in a timely manner, according to a CPUC statement. In one case concerning gas pipeline safety, PG&E filed a “late notice of ex parte communications” in 2014 for a conversation that actually took place in 2011.
As KQED has previously reported, PG&E started to face major public scrutiny for its cozy ties to utility regulators after a trove of emails were released in court proceedings initiated by the city of San Bruno in the wake of the deadly 2010 pipeline explosion.
The commission could impose fines ranging from $500 to $50,000 per offense — and under the regulatory framework, each day that the company is deemed to be in violation is considered to be an OFFENSE, so the penalties could amount to quite a lot.
Continue reading on the KQED website » where you can also listen to the story and read the CPUC’s formal 11-page notice of the investigation …