Hererra decries "the real outrage" of PG&E delay

A Guardian map of PG&E underground gas lines

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) considered whether or not to accept a deal with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) at its April 11 meeting in which the company would pay a relatively lenient $3 million fine for failing to turn over safety records for its network of natural gas pipelines to the regulatory agency by the March 15 deadline. The CPUC had demanded that the utility turn over the information in the wake of the San Bruno explosion. Prior to crafting the deal, PG&E had faced a possible $1 million-per-day penalty for every day it failed to comply.

The CPUC did not vote on the deal, but the meeting apparently featured tough questions from commissioners and a very long discussion centering on whether PG&E was saying it would promise to do what the CPUC told them, or only "consider" doing it. (You can read the Chronicle's account here.)

Meanwhile, City Attorney Dennis Herrera issued a press release before the start of the meeting to highlight official commments his office submitted to the CPUC on behalf of the City and County of San Francisco.

"The real outrage is that seven months after the San Bruno tragedy, not a single PG&E gas transmission line prone to similar ruptures has been replaced," Herrera said. "Yes, I think a $3 million fine for a utility giant that flouts regulatory orders is too lenient. But the imperatives of human life and safety ought to take precedence over punishing PG&E over slipshod recordkeeping." Herrera's office urged the CPUC to require PG&E to immediately begin testing and replacement work on the 152 miles of gas transmission lines.

"What is of concern to Dennis is that we're getting lost in a discussion about records," said Herrera spokesperson Matt Dorsey, when the focus should be on addressing unsafe gas transmission lines. Dorsey added that one pipeline in particular runs right through the Dogpatch neighborhood, near Herrera's house.