CPUC Publishes 65,000 Emails Between Regulators and PG&E

PG&E has come under fire for previous ex parte communications with regulators.

PG&E has come under fire for previous ex parte communications with regulators. (Getty Images)

Get your reading glasses ready.

The California Public Utilities Commission just published some 65,000 emails between Pacific Gas and Electric Company executives and state regulators.

An administrative law judge ruled earlier this month that the utility must release by today the communications to the CPUC and the city of San Bruno, the site of a September 2010 gas transmission line explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

The company said the emails covering almost five years, from 2010 through September 2014, were examined as part of an internal review. Inappropriate communications have already been reported to the CPUC, according to a written statement from the utility company.

“While we will make no excuses about unethical conduct, it is critical for the public to know that, as a regulated entity serving the needs of 16 million Californians, it is entirely appropriate for us, as well as other groups, to communicate with our regulators on an ongoing basis,” PG&E’s statement says in part. “The vast majority of the 65,000 communications have been completely appropriate, but in those few instances when they were not, we took immediate and definitive action.”

The utility said three officers were fired over inappropriate ex parte communications with regulators, among other structural changes to regulatory compliance at PG&E.

Former CPUC President Michael Peevey announced he wouldn’t seek another term during the fallout from previously released back-channel communications. His home was searched by state investigators this week.

Peevey’s replacement, Michael Picker, told KQED in late December that he is not concerned about PG&E’s perceived “cozy” relationship with its regulator, and that the CPUC is too focused on the Bay Area.

He struck a less aloof tone after he took office, promising to work for a more transparent and safety-conscious culture at the CPUC.

Here’s a link to the CPUC’s hosting of the documents again. Each email is a separate .pdf file, and at this point, they are not searchable in bulk.

CPUC Publishes 65,000 Emails Between Regulators and PG&E 30 January,2015Alex Emslie


Alex Emslie

Alex Emslie is a criminal justice reporter at KQED. He covers policing policy, crime and the courts.

He left Colorado and a career as a carpenter in 2008 to study journalism at City College of San Francisco. He then graduated from San Francisco State University’s journalism program with a minor in criminal justice studies. Prior to joining KQED in 2013, Alex freelanced for various news outlets including the Huffington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Examiner and Bay Guardian.

Alex is proud of his work at KQED on a spike in fatal officer-involved shootings in Vallejo, which uncovered that a single officer shot and killed three suspects over the course of five months. Alex’s work with a team at KQED on police encounters with people in psychiatric crisis was cited in amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court. He received the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists Best Scoop award in 2015 for exposing a series of bigoted text messages swapped by San Francisco police officers. He was honored with 2010 San Francisco Peninsula Press Club and California Newspaper Publishers Association awards for breaking news reporting on the trial following the shooting of Oscar Grant. Email: aemslie@kqed.org. Twitter: @SFNewsReporter.

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