SAN FRANCISCO, November 22, 2021 – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today issued two citations to its staff totaling $ 7.5 million to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for misconduct to safety.
A $ 5 million citation was issued for PG&E’s failure to thoroughly inspect Ignacio-Alto-Sausalito transmission lines from 2009 to 2018 and to complete 22 high priority repairs within the timelines set by CPUC regulations ( general ordinance 95). A second citation of $ 2.5 million was issued to PG&E for incomplete inspections of distribution poles in 2019 that violated the requirements of the CPUC regulations (General Order 165). Third, the CPUC issued a directive to PG&E with corrective action for the utility to take regarding an incident with a Cellon treated pole that occurred in Danville, Calif., In 2020.
The $ 5 million quote relates to a safety advisory that PG&E reported to the CPUC in 2019. As part of its forest fire safety inspection program, PG&E began inspecting Ignacio transmission lines -Alto-Sausalito in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. These inspections revealed a series of high priority failures that needed to be corrected immediately on 21 transmission towers, including rusted and damaged tower parts, worn gaskets and C-hooks. Rule 18 of CPUC General Order 95 requires that these high priority deficiencies be addressed immediately as they pose an “immediate risk of high potential impact on safety or reliability”. Although PG&E initiated the Sausalito Emergency Project to replace and repair the towers, it failed to resolve these deficiencies in a timely manner and in accordance with the requirements of Rule 18. PG&E has finalized the completion of all corrections on April 14, 2020.
The $ 2.5 million quote relates to a separate safety concern notification. In May 2021, PG&E informed the CPUC that its own internal records identified 54,755 distribution poles that had not undergone routine detailed inspections in 2019 that are required by General Ordinance 165. The poles were inspected in 2019 as part of a separate program, the Forest Fire Safety Inspection. program, but the program’s inspection criteria did not meet all the detailed inspection requirements of the General Order. Since informing the CPUC of this oversight, PG&E has been ordered to work on an accelerated schedule to complete any missed inspections and update its records. However, because these inspections were incomplete, CPUC staff found PG&E in violation of General Order 165.
The directive issued to PG&E today relates to an incident in which a distribution pole failed in a customer’s yard in Danville, Calif. In 2020. PG&E issued a safety advisory to the CPUC following the the incident, stating that its inspection procedures for Cellon-treated lumber posts failed to accurately assess post integrity and identify the potential for internal dry rot. The directive sent to PG&E sets out the reporting and notification requirements, follow-up actions and corrective actions that PG&E must take in order to resolve the issue and ensure that appropriate safety mitigation efforts are in place to prevent future incidents.
Information on Quotations is available at: https://www.cpuc.ca.gov/regulatory-services/enforcement-and-citations/electric-safety-citations. PG&E has 30 calendar days from today to pay or file an appeal.
The Security and Enforcement Division (SED) of the CPUC has the authority at the staff level to issue citations to regulated power companies for violating CPUC codes and regulations.
Security breaches are identified by ongoing SED audits, inspections and investigations; by the utilities themselves through mandatory disclosure requirements; or through the CPUC whistleblower program for anonymous and protected reporting of violations. Whistleblowers can call 1-800-649-7570 or email [email protected] The CPUC also has an online whistleblower reporting form at https://ia.cpuc.ca.gov/whblow/ where complaints can be submitted anonymously.
The many steps CPUC takes to hold PG&E accountable for serving its clients safely include:
- Specific established metric systematically assess the operational safety performance of PG&E and pursue the implementation of Improved monitoring and enforcement process imposed on PG&E by the CPUC as a condition of approval of the exit plan from the bankruptcy of PG&E in May 2020.
- Directed PG&E to take immediate action to reduce and mitigate the impacts on customers of the sudden loss of power due to PG&E performance of its Fast travel program.
- Placed PG&E in the first stage of a Strengthened monitoring and enforcement process based on the company’s failure to sufficiently prioritize the clearing of vegetation on its high-risk power lines as part of its forest fire mitigation work in 2020, and to carry out investigate to determine whether to recommend advancing the CMP&E as part of the enhanced monitoring and enforcement process.
- Asked PG&E to prepare for public safety power outages at a public information session.
- Ordered PG&E to make improvements to its Public safety power cut to treat.
- Ordered PG&E to create a mobile app for customers to report power infrastructure safety issues.
- Standards, scope and expectations set for the independent safety monitor who will provide safety oversight information to the CPUC from February 2022, also a condition of approval of the PG&E plan for the existing bankruptcy in May 2020.
- Continuous monitoring of PG&E safety improvement actions ordered as part of a 2018-2020 CPUC natural gas system location and marking survey.
- Continuous monitoring of PG&E safety improvement actions ordered in a 2017-2018 CPUC forest fire investigation.
- Ongoing monitoring and reporting of PG&E safety culture ordered during a 2015 investigation following the 2010 PG&E natural gas transportation pipeline explosion in San Bruno.
The CPUC regulates utilities and services, protects the environment, and ensures Californians’ access to safe and reliable infrastructure and public services. For more information on CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.