SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Kevin Benedict, Rich Waidmann, Pat Romanski, Michael Jannery, Javier Paniza

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PG&E Affirms Commitment to Safety and Expresses Confidence Legal Process Ultimately Will Uphold Company Position

SAN FRANCISCO, July 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Pacific Gas & Electric Company today expressed confidence that the legal process will uphold its position that federal charges contained within a superseding indictment formally filed today are unwarranted.

The charges relate to 27 alleged violations of the federal Pipeline Safety Act as well as an allegation that the company attempted to obstruct a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation following the 2010 explosion of a natural gas transmission line in San Bruno.

The superseding indictment, which replaces an indictment issued in April, was announced by the United States Attorney's Office (USAO) in San Francisco late yesterday and filed today.

In response, the company issued this statement:

"Based on all of the evidence we have seen to date and our review of the new indictment, we still do not believe that PG&E employees intentionally violated the federal Pipeline Safety Act, and that, even where mistakes were made, employees were acting in good faith to provide customers with safe and reliable energy."

"With respect to the allegation of obstruction, during the NTSB investigation PG&E responded to hundreds of questions and requests for information and documents from the NTSB on an expedited basis. In the one response questioned in the USAO charge, PG&E had submitted a cover sheet approval form mismatched to the wrong internal engineering document. PG&E corrected this error with a letter dated April 6, 2011. The NTSB published the letter on its accident investigation docket on September 30, 2011, and it has been publicly available since then. PG&E believes the letter is true and accurate and stands by it." 

"We are confident the legal process will ensure all of the facts are fully reviewed. In the meantime, we want all of our customers to know that we will stay focused on transforming this 100-plus-year-old natural gas system into the safest and most reliable in the country."

"San Bruno was a tragic accident. We've taken accountability and are deeply sorry. We have worked hard to do the right thing for victims, their families and the community, and we will continue to do so. We are absolutely committed to re-earning the trust of all of the people we are fortunate to serve every day."

The indictment also seeks to increase financial penalties associated with the charges. However, PG&E noted that the financial penalties would be moot if the government fails to prove its case.

Since the 2010 explosion, PG&E has worked hard to improve the natural gas system and make safety the foundation of its culture. Among the steps the company has taken: 

  • Change began at the top with Tony Earley joining the company as the CEO in 2011. We restructured our gas operations business and recruited the best natural gas experts in the country to run it.
  • In order to help ensure the safety of the existing pipeline system, we digitized records, conducted advanced pressure testing, replaced pipe where necessary and deployed 150 new automated or remotely controlled valves.
  • We built a new gas operations control center from which we can monitor the entire system and respond more quickly and effectively to emergencies. It employs the most advanced 21st century technology.
  • When a customer calls to report a gas odor, we are now among the fastest in the entire industry in responding, and we've adopted new gas leak detection technology that is 1,000 times more sensitive than before in order to help find and fix leaks before they become a problem.
  • We put 3,500 leaders at all levels of PG&E through safety training and we review the lessons of San Bruno with every new employee we hire as we work each and every day to put safety first.
  • We recently became one of the first utilities in the world to earn two of the highest safety certifications – the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 55001 and Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 55. These stringent certifications must be re-earned every year.

The company has settled claims amounting to more than $500 million with the victims and families of the San Bruno accident, established a $50 million trust for the City of San Bruno for costs related to recovery and contributed $70 million to support the city's and community's recovery efforts.

For additional information and ongoing updates on this issue, please visit  www.PGEresponds.com.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation's cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit www.pge.com/ and http://www.pge.com/about/newsroom/.

SOURCE Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)

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