Regulators propose $2.25-billion fine for PG&E; in San Bruno explosion
California regulators have proposed that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pay a record $2.25-billion penalty for its role in causing a fatal 2010 natural gas explosion in San Bruno, a San Francisco suburb.
The total includes a $300-million fine to be paid to the California treasury and $1.95 billion for safety upgrades to the company’s gas distribution system. About $1.5 billion would be paid by shareholders and the balance would be returned as a credit to PG&E; for already completed distribution system repairs and safeguards.
The proposed financial penalty comes almost three years after the Sept. 9, 2010, explosion of a transmission line that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes in a neighborhood near the San Francisco International Airport.
Consumer advocates praised the proposed penalty that is expected to go before the five-member California Public Utilities Commission in the fall.
The fines are overdue, said Tom Long, legal director for the Utility Reform Network, a San Francisco group that monitors the PUC.
“The public is still waiting for PG&E; to be held accountable,” he said. “It seems obvious that penalties should reduce PG&E;'s profits, rather than cushion PG&E;'s shareholders.”
PG&E; said it objected to paying $300 million to the state rather than investing it in pipeline safety. “In its zeal to punish PG&E;, the staff of the California Public Utilities Commission has lost sight of our important shared goal of making PG&E;'s natural gas operation the safest in the country as quickly as we possibly can,” said Tom Bottorff, senior vice president for regulatory affairs.
Your guide to our new economic reality.
Get our free business newsletter for insights and tips for getting by.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.