San Bruno alleges ‘cozy’ relationship between PG&E, regulators after explosion

A search dog looks for survivors of the 2010 blast of a PG&E pipeline in San Bruno.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

San Bruno city officials, furious over what they said were overly friendly communications between utility regulators and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. related to a fatal 2010 gas pipeline explosion, are calling for a multi-agency investigation of California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey.

At a press conference on the steps of the PUC building in downtown San Francisco on Monday, Mayor Jim Ruane called for Peevey’s immediate removal from ongoing proceedings related to proposed penalties for the blast that killed eight and injured 66 others. PUC staff has proposed levying more than $2 billion in fines for the blast in the Bay Area bedroom community.

The allegations are based on 7,000 pages of PUC documents released by the commission to comply with a settlement of a San Bruno lawsuit under the California Public Records Act.

According to the mayor, the documents reveal that Peevey and top PUC and PG&E officials communicated frequently by email in violation of the commission’s rules regarding private conversations between parties to official actions and regulators.


“Not only do these private communications violate the law but they provide evidence of a relationship between the utility and the CPUC that is familiar, collegial and cozy,” he said.

A PUC spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the San Bruno legal filings.

PG&E in a letter to the city said it would review the emails.

“While we are required to communicate on a daily basis with the commission on a wide array of issues critical to our customers, we are absolutely committed to conducting ourselves in an ethical manner at all times,” the company wrote.


A federal grand jury has indicted PG&E on 12 alleged violations of the U.S. Pipeline Safety Act, involving poor record keeping and faulty management practices.

Twitter: @MarcLifsher