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California attorney general investigating PG&E and PUC

California attorney general investigating PG&E and PUC
An email from the office of Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, above, to PUC Executive Director Paul Clanon ordered him to preserve potential evidence related to a fatal natural gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., according to a Sacramento Bee report. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

— The California attorney general has opened an investigation into reported improper contacts between Pacific Gas & Electric Co. executives and the state Public Utilities Commission — already the focus of a probe by federal prosecutors.

On Monday, PG&E confirmed that it was cooperating with the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco. The agency informed the company it had opened an investigation into emails and other communications made public in recent months by PG&E and the PUC.

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Commission President Michael Peevey, a participant in some of the emailed discussions, has been the target of criticism from consumer groups and local governments that accuse him of having an overly "cozy" relationship with PG&E and other firms that his agency regulates.

On Thursday, Peevey announced that he would not seek an appointment for a third term from Gov. Jerry Brown as head of the 1,100-person agency, which oversees private companies that provide electricity and natural gas services.

The state investigation was reported Friday by the Sacramento Bee newspaper. Neither the attorney general's office, nor PG&E, nor the PUC would comment on the reported inquiry.

The newspaper cited a Sept. 19 email from the office of Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris to PUC Executive Director Paul Clanon. The email ordered Clanon to preserve potential evidence related to a fatal natural gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., the assignment of administrative law judges to cases and rate-setting proceedings.

The attorney general's email to the PUC was sent on the same day that two state lawmakers and the mayor of San Bruno hand-delivered a letter to her office, demanding she "immediately investigate the apparent repeated violations of the law" by PUC commissioners and their staff.

Leaked reports confirming the attorney general's inquiry came after those legislators, Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) and Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), complained that Harris did not respond to their call for her to become involved.

Twitter: @MarcLifsher

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