PG&E fined $7.5 million for safety failures

Business

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KTXL) — Pacific Gas & Electric received two citations from state regulators over multiple safety failures on Monday.

The California Public Utilities Commission issued the citations, totaling $7.5 million, over what they said is PG&E’s failure to properly inspect and repair transmission lines from 2009 through 2018, as well as tens of thousands of distribution poles in the power company’s service area.

The first citation for $5 million relates to a notification sent by PG&E to CPUC in 2019 warning that an inspection of the Ignacio-Alto-Sausalito transmission lines revealed “high-priority deficiencies” on 21 transmission towers. These issues included rusted and damaged tower parts, joints and “C” hooks, which are used to connect power lines to towers.

Those deficiencies posed “an immediate risk of high potential impact to safety or reliability” and required immediate correcting, CPUC said.

Although PG&E began what they called the Sausalito Emergency Project to correct these issues, CPUC said the company failed to resolve the deficiencies within a timeline set by Rule 18 of CPUC’s General Order 95. PG&E completed the project in April of 2020.

The other citation, totaling $2.5 million, relates to another notification sent by PG&E in 2019 to regulators identifying 54,755 distribution poles which required routine inspections. Those poles had been inspected under the Wildfire Safety Inspection program, but that program did not meet all criteria laid out in CPUC’s General Order.

PG&E was directed to work quickly to inspect the poles and update their records, but this work was not completed, CPUC said.

CPUC said the citations stem from an incident in 2020, when a distribution pole failed in a customer’s backyard in Danville. CPUC found PG&E’s inspection procedures for these poles failed to assess their structural integrity and identify dry rot.

In response to the citations, PG&E released this statement to FOX40:

The safety of our customers and the communities we serve is PG&E’s most important responsibility.

From 2019 to 2021, PG&E discovered issues with some of our equipment inspection processes and findings. In our commitment to transparency, we self-reported those issues to the California Public Utilities Commission. PG&E also created corrective-action plans to resolve the issues safely and as quickly as possible, including completing missed inspections and making high-priority transmission-line replacements.

Those actions do not change the fact that we fell short of our commitment to our customers and communities in each instance.

In November 2021, PG&E received two citations, with financial penalties totaling $7.5 million, and one directive letter from the California Public Utilities Commission’s Safety and Enforcement Division related to the company’s self-reports.

PG&E will also continue to implement a robust series of corrective actions, and we are working hand in hand with the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division to show how we continue to improve our processes.

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