05/16/2011

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) today released audit information prepared for her by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that reveals that PG&E spent $183 million less than authorized to replace aging pipelines from 1987 to 1999. The CPUC told Rep. Speier that it posted the information on its website today.

Speier stated, “This latest audit information underscores the critical need for the CPUC to closely monitor PG&E’s decision-making on the operation of its natural gas pipelines. PG&E is now required to file a Safety Report twice per year on its operation, inspection and replacement of pipelines with full scrutiny placed on how authorized money is spent. Obviously, this degree of monitoring didn’t exist when PG&E decided to forgo replacing aging pipelines in San Bruno in the early 1990s. In fact, PG&E decided not to replace the very pipelines it is now going to spend millions to hydro-test. It is tragic that it took a disaster that killed eight people to bring to light the ramifications of $183 million in under-spending.

“I would also note that the CPUC struggled more than two months to obtain the information I requested, in part, because it had to depend on PG&E for document retrieval. I am assured by the CPUC that new monitoring practice will strength its oversight of natural gas operators. Clearly, CPUC should have been more diligent in its assessment of PGE& work activities in the 1990s—this is a history that can’t be repeated.”

Speier concluded, “PG&E’s performance in the 1990s undercuts its opposition today to safety arguments supporting the hydrostatic testing of all pre-1962 transmission lines in use in highly populated areas. “ 

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