Regulators are accusing one of California’s largest public utilities of fudging safety data records shortly after the utility company was fined millions of dollars for a massive natural gas explosion in San Francisco.
A California Public Utilities Commission investigation found that the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. lacked enough employees to fulfill requests to document natural gas pipelines.
PG&E pushed supervisors to complete the work, leading staff to falsify data from 2012 to 2017.
“Utility falsification of safety related records is a serious violation of law and diminishes our trust in the utility’s reports on their progress,” commission President Michael Picker noted in a statement Friday.
“These findings are another example of why we are investigating PG&E’s safety culture.”
The company, which is on the verge of bankruptcy, claims it now has enough employees to effectively document pipelines throughout the state.
“We’re committed to accurate and thorough reporting and record-keeping, and we didn’t live up to that commitment in this case,” utility spokesman Matt Nauman said in a statement.
The utility was fined $3 million after it was convicted of six felony charges for not properly maintaining a natural gas pipeline that exploded in 2010.
Regulators also fined PG&E $1.6 billion for the blast, which killed eight people and wiped out an entire neighborhood in San Bruno.
California’s public utility commission gave the evidence to a judge, who will hear testimony on the findings and allow PG&E to provide its side of the story.
The company has come under intense scrutiny recently following a series of wildfires outbreaks in November that leveled a small Northern California town.
Three major fires – the Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire, and Hill Fire – scorched more than 200,000 acres, or roughly 300 square miles, mostly in Northern California.
Hundreds of thousands of Californians were forced to evacuate, including 160,000 from the Los Angeles-area where the Woolsey Fire and smaller Hill Fire burned.
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