SAN FRANCISCO — California regulatory judges have issued a $1.4 billion penalty against Pacific Gas and Electric Co. for a 2010 gas pipeline explosion that engulfed a suburban San Francisco neighborhood in fire, killing eight people and prompting national alerts about aging pipelines.
The California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday announced the figure reached by two administrative law judges against PG&E, saying it would be the largest safety-related penalty it had ever imposed.
PG&E released the following statement regarding the penalty:
“Since the 2010 explosion of our natural gas transmission pipeline in San Bruno, we’ve been dedicated to re-earning the trust of our customers and the communities we serve. We are deeply sorry for this tragic event.
“We are accountable and fully accept that a penalty is appropriate. We have respectfully asked that the Commission ensure that the penalty is reasonable and proportionate and takes into consideration the company’s investments and actions to promote safety.
“We’ve worked hard to do the right thing for the victims, their families and the community of San Bruno. Beyond this, all of us at PG&E have committed ourselves to a goal to transform this company into the safest and most reliable energy provider in America. We’ve hired some of the best gas experts in the country to help guide this effort and supported it with billions of dollars in shareholder funding.
“We have made tremendous progress but we’re not done. We have more work to do and we won’t rest until it’s done and done right.”
The commission previously ordered PG&E to pay $635 million for pipeline modernization in the wake of the Sept. 9, 2010, blast in the suburban San Francisco community of San Bruno.
Judges found that PG&E committed 3,798 violations of state and federal laws in connection with the operations of its gas transmission system pipeline.
Of the $1.4 billion penalty, $950 million will be paid to California’s General Fund, $400 million in pipeline improvements that can’t be recovered from customers, and $50 million to enhance pipeline safety.
PG&E can appeal the fine.
It was California’s deadliest utility disaster in decades.
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