Safety and Enforcement Blog

CPUC Issues Citations to PG&E and SoCalGas for Safety Violations

(Natural Gas Pipeline Safety, Utility Enforcement) Permanent link

The CPUC issued Citations to PG&E and Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) for natural gas-related violations found during the course of CPUC safety audits.

 

The CPUC’s safety and enforcement staff issued the following two Citations to PG&E:

·    $430,000 Citation for three violations that deal with specific Federal requirements that utilities must undertake to properly understand the risks faced by their systems and effectively manage system integrity, including requirements to periodically inspect and test pipelines to identify and repair potentially hazardous defects. Among several issues found during the audit, PG&E failed to immediately excavate and examine pipelines that showed signs of potential corrosion based on a process called indirect assessment. The violations were first found during an audit that began in September 2012. The violations were subsequently confirmed through additional investigation by CPUC staff that lasted into 2014.

·    $100,000 Citation for two violations related to a gap in PG&E’s Operator Qualification procedures that potentially allowed for non-qualified personnel to perform field work, which could create a hazardous condition for the public and utility employees. The violations were found during an audit that began in November 2013.

 

CPUC staff issued a $50,000 Citation to SoCalGas when during the course of a 2013 audit a utility employee was observed smoking inside a fenced valve station, creating a danger of an accidental ignition. Utility employees must control sources of ignition, not limited to cigarettes, within transmission and storage facilities. 

 

The utilities have 10 calendar days to pay or contest the Citations.

 

Read the Citations

 

CPUC Issues $10.85 Million Citation to PG&E and Opens Penalty Case

(Natural Gas Pipeline Safety) Permanent link

 

The CPUC issued a $10.85 million staff Citation to PG&E for a natural gas explosion in Carmel-by-the-Sea in March, and, separately, opened a formal penalty consideration case against PG&E relating to recordkeeping associated with the utility’s gas distribution infrastructure.

The CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division issued a $10.85 million Citation to PG&E for the utility’s failure to take the necessary steps to make safe the area in Carmel-by-the-Sea where planned work was underway on March 3, 2014, and failure to adequately equip the construction crew with the tools necessary to stop the uncontrolled flow of natural gas, leading to the explosion of an unoccupied home. The Safety and Enforcement Division determined that PG&E violated a federal regulation and Public Utilities Code that require it to make safe any actual or potential hazard to life or property and instruct that every public utility must provide and maintain the equipment to ensure the safety of employees and the public. PG&E has 10 calendar days to pay or contest the Citation, which must be paid with shareholder funds. Read the Citation.

 

The CPUC’s Commissioners also voted to open a formal penalty consideration case pertaining to PG&E’s safety recordkeeping for its natural gas distribution service and facilities. The case will review and determine whether PG&E’s recordkeeping practices for its gas distribution system have been unsafe and in violation of the law (a penalty consideration case into PG&E’s transmission pipeline recordkeeping began in February 2011). Gas safety recordkeeping refers to, but is not limited to, PG&E’s acquisition, maintenance, organization, safekeeping, and efficient retrieval of data that the CPUC finds is necessary and appropriate for PG&E to make good and safe gas engineering decisions, and thus to promote safety as required by Section 451 of the Public Utilities Code, as well as several other state and federal rules and regulations. In approving the opening of the case, the CPUC’s Commissioners reviewed six PG&E natural gas distribution system incidents presented by the Safety and Enforcement Division as evidence of PG&E’s unsafe operations, which included the incident in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Within 30 days PG&E must submit a report contesting any facts asserted in the Safety and Enforcement Division incident reports. The PG&E report allows the utility the opportunity to make a showing in opposition to the Safety and Enforcement Division’s allegations, and also allows for the record to be further developed. Ex parte communications in this proceeding are prohibited. Read the document opening the formal investigation and the Safety and Enforcement Division Investigation Reports here under Nov. 20, 2014.