PG&E; Agrees to Pay $850,000 Fine
Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. agreed to pay $850,000 to settle claims that it withheld a key document during hearings to determine whether it should be allowed to recover millions of dollars invested in a natural gas pipeline. The settlement, which must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, also requires some employees of the nation’s largest utility to take ethics training courses. The document showed there was less demand for gas from the pipeline than company executives had claimed in testimony, raising questions about whether the $800-million pipeline was needed and should be allowed to open and compete against other pipelines carrying gas from Texas and New Mexico. “We weren’t trying to hide [the document],” said Joshua Bar-Lev, an attorney for San Francisco-based PG&E.; “We made some good-faith mistakes.” The commission is expected to vote later this month on whether to approve the settlement. The pipeline is part of a network that carries gas to California from Alberta, Canada, and competes against other lines carrying gas from Southwestern states. It opened in 1993.