For Immediate Release from TURN, The Utility Reform Network


Wednesday, January 30, San Francisco–TURN Executive director Mark Toney urges the  federal judge overseeing PG&E’s criminal probation to place the company in federal receivership in an Op Ed published in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.   Judge Alsup has called PG&E on the carpet due to its continuing pattern of negligence, and is expected to impose new conditions on the convicted felon.  Federal courts have placed the California State Prisons and the Oakland Police Department under receivership; like those institutions PG&E is in desperate need of more effective oversight.


Unlike a bankruptcy court, where the focus is creditors, a criminal court could exert enormous power over critical safety operations at PG&E,” Toney said.     “With PG&E expected to face new charges for negligent tree trimming and falsifying safety records, it is obvious that more needs to be done to stop the criminal behaviors the company was convicted of for its fatal and avoidable pipeline explosion in San Bruno.”


In a proposed order, Judge Alsup would require PG&E to inspect its entire electrical grid and to cut off power if the company can’t show the lines are safe.  That order may be revised to take into account the practical difficulties of rushing inspections and the dangers of clear cutting and blackouts.  The Judge could also adjust the order in a manner more consistent with the way other felons have been treated.


“In the same way that people serving time in prison lose the ability to express their opinions at the ballot box, PG&E, convicted of lying to federal authorities,  should lose political rights,“ Toney said.   “PG&E can be prohibited from making political campaign contributions and should  no longer be authorized to lobby at the state capitol, or the CPUC or anywhere else.”


While it may not be physically possible to send a corporation like PG&E to prison, he said,  “the tepid sanctions that have been tried to date have clearly failed to get the attention of PG&E’s Board and top management.  It’s high time to treat the company like the recidivist convict it is, and hopefully put it on the path to rehabilitation.”


Full Op Ed here: https://bit.ly/2ScGt2E