TURN Appeals PG&E San Bruno Bailout

TURN is demanding that the CPUC reverse its Dec. 20th decision

In an appeal to be filed today, TURN is demanding that the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) reverse its Dec. 20th decision letting PG&E charge customers $214 million to replace pipelines revealed to be of questionable safety after the San Bruno explosion. The CPUC itself came under criticism after the blast not only for ignoring poor safety practices but also for failing to require profit-driven PG&E to comply with basic record-keeping requirements. PG&E must now replace over 50 miles of pipelines that may or may not have been tested before because it has no records of previous testing.

TURN has repeatedly urged the Commission to hold PG&E accountable for its mistakes, and not let the company pass the buck to consumers. Under the long-standing principle that customers should not pay for utility blunders, the Commission’s decision agreed with TURN that the costs of testing pipeline segments that PG&E did not have records for should come from profits rather than rates. But it failed to apply the same standard to replacements of segments PG&E has no records for.

TURN legal director Tom Long said that giving PG&E a free pass on those missing records amounted to customers shielding PG&E from its own mistakes. “Customers should not be bailing out PG&E,” said Long. “The Commission needs to stand up to PG&E, and stand up for customers who were put in harms’ way by PG&E’s mismanagement.”

In addition, TURN’s appeal claims that PG&E has not met its burden of proof for $450 million in proposed pipeline replacements, in light of PG&E’s own admission that not all the pipeline needs to be replaced. “The CPUC must require a showing from PG&E that substantiates the need for replacement rather than testing before, not after, it approves rate hikes,” said Long. “The Commission is legally required to conclude in a decision that PG&E has met its burden of proving the reasonableness of these rate increases. That hasn’t happened yet.”