Investigation 15-08-019 (I.15-08-019)

Order Instituting Investigation on the Commission’s Own Motion to Determine
Whether Pacific Gas and Electric Company and PG&E Corporation’s Organizational Culture and Governance Prioritize Safety.

Given PG&E’s record and the dangers inherent in PG&E’s service territory, the Commission must evaluate whether there is a better way to serve Northern California with safe and reliable electric and gas service at just and reasonable rates.

Press release:
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M252/K798/252798213.PDF

Scoping memo and ruling: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M252/K547/252547055.PDF

Excerpts from the Scoping Memo –

“1. Principles

Continuous, safe, and reliable gas and electric service at just and reasonable rates must be provided to Northern California in order to protect human life and sustain prosperity…The Commission will examine PG&E’s and PG&E Corporation’s (PG&E Corp.) current corporate governance, structure, and operations to determine if the utility is positioned to provide safe electrical and gas service, and will review alternatives to the current management and operational structures of providing electric and gas service in Northern California…

2. Background

PG&E has had serious safety problems with both its gas and electric operations for many years… PG&E was also found guilty by a federal jury of federal criminal conduct, specifically multiple willful violations of the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 and of obstructing an agency proceeding…

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This Commission was, and remains, concerned that the safety problems being experienced by PG&E were not just one-off situations or bad luck, but indicated a deeper and more systemic

… The fact that imposing penalties on PG&E (the Commission’s standard tool for addressing safety problems) did not seem to change the situation reinforced this concern.

… The failure of PG&E to develop a comprehensive enterprise -wide approach to address safety, eight years after the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion, is of vital concern to this Commission.

On December 14, 2018, the Commission opened an OII proceeding to consider penalties and ordered immediate action against PG&E for what Commission staff says are systemic violations of rules to prevent damage to natural gas pipelines during excavation activities…

This Commission is tasked with regulating PG&E’s safe operation of its natural gas pipeline and electricity infrastructure. Given PG&E’s record and the dangers inherent in PG&E’s service territory, the Commission must evaluate whether there is a better way to serve Northern California with safe and reliable electric and gas service at just and reasonable rates. This ruling identifies the scope of issues considered in the next phase of this proceeding.

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3. Scope of Issues

The safe operation of PG&E’s gas and electric systems and the threat of personal harm to PG&E employees and members of the public are of critical concern to the Commission and California. To address that concern and mitigate future risk, the next phase of this proceeding will consider a broad range of alternatives to current management and operational structures for providing electric and natural gas in Northern California.

…the keystone question is, compared to PG&E and PG&E Corp. as presently constituted, would any of the following proposals provide Northern Californians safer gas and electric service at just and reasonable rates?…”

———————————————-

These proposals include:

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— “Should part or all of the existing Board of Directors resign and be replaced by directors with a stronger background and focus on safety?”
— “Should PG&E retain new corporate management in all or in part?”
— “Publicly Owned Utility, Cooperative, Community Choice Aggregation or other Models:  Should some or all of PG&E be reconstituted as a publicly owned utility or utilities?”

Comments due January 30, 2019. Reply comments in the proceeding due February 13.

How to comment or become a party in the proceeding:

To submit comments to the CPUC, include proceeding number I.15-08-019 and send to:

Email:

public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov

Mailing address:
California Public Utilities Commission
Public Advisor’s Office
505 Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94102

Further information on submitting comments:
http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/general.aspx?id=4524

To become a formal party and participate in the proceeding:
http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/party_to_a_proceeding/

Questions:
Telephone: 1-866-849-8390
Email: public.advisor@cpuc.ca.gov

A few recent examples:

https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/10/21/pge-helped-stall-effort-to-map-risky-power-lines-prone-to-wildfires/
PG&E helped stall effort to map risky powerlines prone to wildfires

https://www.eastbaytimes.com/2017/10/26/editorial-pge-records-show-utility-cannot-be-trusted/
Editorial: PG&E records show utility cannot be trusted, 10/26/17

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https://smartmeterharm.org/2019/01/12/cpuc-considers-converting-pacific-gas-and-electric-into-publicly-owned-utility/