PG&E Diverted Repair Money For San Bruno Gas Pipeline

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The cause of the spectacular and deadly explosion and fire is still being investigated.But documents PG&E submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission say the pipeline was one of the company's 100 riskiest. It reads..."...the likelihood of a failure makes the risk of a failure at this location unacceptably high..."PG&E says that section of pipeline is a mile and half from the portion that failed, and that the pipe that exploded was inspected as recently as last March.

"This one was not listed as one of the high risk sections of the pipeline," said PG&E Company President Chris Johns earlier this week. But critics say that pipe is part of the same aging system.

"PG&E puts the customers at risk. They should not be allowed to defer maintenance, especially in hazardous areas."said Mindy Spat of the The Utility Reform Network. TURN was also critical of the California Public Utilities Commission which approved a rate hike to pay for maintenance projects.

"The PUC when the rates go up they should be allowed customers should be getting something for their money," said Spat.

While ratepayers were asked to pay for repairs of the San Bruno pipeline that didn't happen, PG&E's Chairman, President and CEO was collecting a bonus.

The utility is allowed to divert repair money, in this case 5 million dollars, for higher priority repair projects.But it asked for another 5 million dollars for the same section again last year.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier who represents San Bruno likens it to a house contractor who asks you for money twice to do the same work. "We wouldn't put up with it...there was a level of fraud," said Speier.

She is also asking that automatic shut off valves be installed on pipelines, many of which were built over 40 years ago."I mean it took an hour and 46 minutes for PG&E to get to the site to turn off the fuel. We should require automatic shut off valves," she said.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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