PUC recommends fine in PG&E explosion

POSTED: 5:06 PM Jul 16 2013   UPDATED: 5:55 PM Jul 16 2013

State regulators are calling on PG&E to pay at least $300 million in fines for a deadly 2010 gas pipeline blast in San Bruno. If the fines go through, it would be the largest fine in the history of the Public Utilities Commission.

Regulators had originally called for a $2.25 billion penalty against PG&E which would consist entirely of funds the utility has spent or promised to spend on pipeline system improvements ordered by the commission.

However, in a brief filed today regulators recommended an additional $300 million penalty that would go into the state's general fund.

PG&E responded to the revised penalty recommendation for the San Bruno incident saying, that the California Public Utilities Commission was too focused on punishing PG&E to realize that their fine would actually make the natural gas operation less safe.

“The newly revised penalty recommendation takes $300 million away from safety improvements and sends that money to the Legislature for general fund spending," said PG&E Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Tom Bottorff.

"In addition," Bottorff continued, "staff’s failure to account for total PG&E shareholder costs would force PG&E shareholders to spend $4 billion – about 40 times higher than the highest penalty ever assessed for a pipeline accident in the history of the U.S. The CPUC’s own consultants acknowledged the financial risks of such a large penalty."