San Bruno gas pipeline explosion damage

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted PG&E on 16 new counts in connection with the San Bruno pipeline explosion in 2010, including a charge of obstructing justice. The new indictments, which will be added to the original 12 charges in April, come one day after San Bruno officials accused PG&E and its regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), of overly friendly, “cozy” e-mail communications and asked that the head of the CPUC be removed.

Jim Ruane, mayor of San Bruno
Jaxon Van Derbeken, reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle
Loretta Lynch, former president of the California Public Utilities Commission

  • colinvgallagher

    The Obama Justice Department has refused to prosecute any of the financial institutions whose practices had led to the near collapse of the global economy and recession of 2008, claiming that the prosecution of “too big to fail” institutions was not possible because of the fallout on the U.S. economy. Why then is PG & E, a public utility that employs thousands across California, being singled out for criminal prosecution? Had none of the Wall Street institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and JP Morgan Chase lied to regulators or obstructed justice over the past 6 years?

    • Mark SF

      So you are saying PG&E shouldn’t be prosecuted because of so far other prosecutions haven’t happened or will not. I think they all should be prosecuted and I don’t care where they start.

      • colinvgallagher

        A criminal prosecution won’t change anything, other than potentially shutting down a major Bay Area employer. I don’t see why a fine could have been assessed just as the current AG has done with every Wall Street institution that may have violated the law.

        • Mark SF

          We disagree. If PG&E closes down and people go to jail another company would come in and take over or better yet it would become a public utility. The people currently employed would still be employed. This goes for the big bank also. I believe in the free market and people and corporations need to be held accountable. If corporations want the same rights as people they must be held to the same account. Fines will not stop bad behavior. PG&E actions or lack of actions killed people. If the explosion had been at your house and your loved one died, I doubt you would have the same opinion. It is time to stop letting things slide. Fines are a laugh. You do believe in the rule of law and the free market?

        • Frequentshopper

          I wonder if Peevy had one of his minions instruct PG & E to arrange for people to defend PG & E in comment sections of any news articles about this?

  • Robert Thomas

    I have no particular affection for Pacific Gass & Electric corporation. I’m happy to pay my electric bill by remitting to the City of Santa Clara’s municipal electro utility, Silicon Vally Power and I wish I could do the same for natural gas.

    But considering the startled response I now get from the young men and women who serve me at Starbucks when I say “please” and “thank you”, I will feel more comfortable about accusations leveled when more pointed descriptions than “overly cozy” are provided for the tenor of communications between these parties.

    • Frequentshopper

      How would you describe the communications?

      • Robert Thomas

        I don’t know. I haven’t read them. But I require that in order for criminal accusations to be credible “cozy” is insufficient. Were I one of these PUC employees involved, I hope I would maintain a cordial and polite but formal aspect. But in order for malfeasance to be shown, surely there must be particular standards that have been violated. I suspect there may have been such violations in these dealings and I would like to hear less subjective examples worthy of indictment, rather than opinion from antagonistic axe-grinders.

  • Robert Thomas

    Ms Lynch’s assertions are disturbing.

    However, a disinterested person might reasonably suspect a history of enmity between a former president and current leadership of any such organization, leading to allegations not free from personal or other bias.

  • Doug

    Part of the issue that must be discussed is the effect deregulation had on utilities. We should have fully public utilities.

    • Robert Thomas

      I don’t understand the opposition San Franciscans have brought against establishing public utilities. Obviously, the task is complicated. But I’ve been a customer of Santa Clara Power (now called Silicon Valley power) for thirty-three years. It was established more or less under its current constitution in 1968. My experience has been one of excellent service, economy and responsibility.

      • whomedoyou

        I’ve only lived in Santa Clara for 3 years but was pleasantly surprised when I was there. Totally agree with your last statement.

  • Sean Dennehy

    More evidence that we need to close the revolving door between corporations and regulators.

  • Fabien Gestas

    I have no doubt that there is a culture of collusion between PG&E and the PUC.
    In fact, I had a very close friend who worked in regulator relations at PG&E. This friend is now deceased, however he would share with me personally about how he regularly had exparte communications with certain commissioners. However, he did also share with me that during the tenure of Loretta Lynch, that she was particularly tough on PG&E and that she never cooperated or colluded with PG&E or any other utility.
    Peevey absolutely must resign. And we need more people like Miss Lynch on the PUC to truly represent and enforce the public interest.

  • SF Bay Power Line Worker

    Keep up the pressure for PG and E to do the “right thing.”

    Please, take it easy on the field workers, there are just too few of us… we are doing our best working for this company. Many long term managers have left; new ones are clueless or are relying on technology. It isn’t going to be good during the next natural or man made disaster; please prepare for future long outages.

    Please slow down when you see a PG and E truck blocking your way; it may save your life!

    • Frequentshopper

      A PG & E construction foreman accused me of using the “N word” after I reported him for threatening to cut my utilities off after I told him to redo the work that he had done on my property in an unsafe manner to save labor. Upon investigation, the other 20 PG & E employees present, several were black, did not back him up on his desperate and irrelevant race card play and one even told me it was not right of him to treat me that way. I’d conclude from this experience and the fact PG& E refused to tell me if he was disciplined says there are some good and some bad employees there, but the bad has trickled all the way down the ranks to some willing to do their bidding to advance, safety be damned. I doubt it ended up in his employee record,

      • SF Bay Power Line Worker

        I fully agree; there are some stupid field workers. That said, don’t challenge the workers, just make a CPUC Complaint; that usually gets attention.

  • Robert Thomas

    The desire to employ regulators with sole allegiance to the public and who pay fair and scrupulous and keen-eyed attention to those they regulate is obvious.

    The hard question is how to find people with good management skills and technical knowledge who fit this criterion. At any level of government, people who acquire this experience work hard to attain it. They should not be faulted for expecting to advance themselves according to their abilities and expertise.

    The result has been the “revolving door”. When a regulator’s commission is complete, it is unreasonable to expect that he or she will abandon his or her experience and embark on a career in an unrelated field.

    Who wouldn’t like to snap their fingers and solve this problem?

  • Frequentshopper

    Why has The Governator II not fired Peevy? The same reason Obama played golf with the president of B of A.

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