Tag Archives: PG&E

Bill would earmark PG&E fines for better pipelines

Two Bay Area lawmakers want to use revenue raised from fines leveled against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. – in connection with 2010’s San Bruno gas line explosion – to pay for upgrades to the utility’s transmission system, saying the move will save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Under current state law, any fine assessed by the California Public Utilities Commission goes to the state’s general spending account, which pays for schools, prisons and other state programs.

Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, on Tuesday introduced legislation that would dedicate money raised from the explosion fines to pipeline upgrades. The measure is co-authored by San Francisco Democratic Sen. Mark Leno.

Hill said state regulators are expected to level at least $200 million – and probably far more – in penalties against the utility in connection with the deadly explosion. If that money is used for pipeline replacement instead of general state spending, he said, ratepayers would save at least $660 million.

“PG&E should not be allowed to profit from what has occurred,” Hill said. “The way it works now … PG&E will borrow the money for capital improvement costs and ratepayers will have to pay the principal back as well as interest.”

But the PUC also has authorized PG&E to grant its shareholders an 11.35 percent profit on its capital improvement projects – money that gets taxed. All these costs are to be paid for by ratepayers unless the bill passes.

Hill said that when you add up all of the additional costs, every dollar of penalty money spent on pipeline upgrades will save ratepayers $3 to $4.

“To me, those ratepayers within the PG&E service area are ones who have suffered the most … by living with an unsafe pipeline system,” he said. “I feel that those are the ratepayers who should benefit, or at least be made whole, from the penalties related to San Bruno.”

The PUC has not yet assessed fines against PG&E in connection with the San Bruno incident, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. But the utility’s managers set aside $200 million last year, saying they expect penalties could top that amount when three separate state investigations are complete.

Hill said PG&E is expected to spend more than $5 billion, including interest, over the next 50 years upgrading its transmission system to comply with federal recommendations.

Brian Swanson, a PG&E spokesman, said the utility has not taken a position on the bill but supports the concept.

 

SOURCE: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/29/BA9E1OP12K.DTL#ixzz1wS1x3g00

PG&E Names New Executive to Gas Pipeline Team

PG&E added another executive to its gas operations team to help rebuild the company following the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno.

Jesus Soto Jr., who is currently the vice president of operation services for El Paso Corp.’s pipeline group, will now become PG&E’s senior vice president of gas transmission, operations, engineering and pipeline integrity.

In his new role, Soto Jr. will be responsible for four areas for the company:

  • public safety and integrity management;
  • project engineering, design and management;
  • gas transmission; and
  • gas system operations.

“PG&E and our customers are fortunate to have someone with such a strong background working to make our system the best in the country,” said Nick Stavropoulos, PG&E’s executive vice president of gas operations, who was recently hired himself to help chart a new path for the utility following the San Bruno disaster. “We have already made excellent progress in turning our operations around, and there is still more to do. I have every confidence Jesus will play a major role in meeting this challenge.”

PG&E has been steadily making strides to revamp its pipeline operations by bringing in Stavropoulos and new CEO Anthony Earley and following through on the pipeline safety recommendations the National Transportation Safety Board issued following the explosion.

The utility also is trying to get a $2.2 billion plan approved by the California Public Utilities Commission to modernize its pipeline system throughout the state.

Meanwhile, PG&E has still been beset with problems stemming from its pipeline operations.

The CPUC recently fined PG&E $3 million for failing to comply with the commission’s orders to provide records for its gas transmission pipelines following the explosion. The company has set aside another $200 million for pending fines that are expected for the explosion.

More than 250 people have filed lawsuits against PG&E for the explosion, and the jury trial starts in July. The lawsuits are expected to be costly.

PG&E also just reached a settlement with the city for $70 million as restitution for the fire.

Soto said he hopes to help turn the company’s operations around.

“I look forward to quickly integrating myself into the PG&E Gas Operations organization and reinforcing a team and a culture that are driven to operational excellence anchored in public, employee and contractor safety, facility integrity, regulatory compliance and system reliability,” he said in a statement.

SOURCE: http://sanbruno.patch.com/articles/pg-e-names-new-executive-to-gas-pipeline-team

State Hearing to Focus on Increasing Funding for CA Public Utilities Commission

The California Public Utilities Commission is seeking to add seven new positions to its gas safety division 

A state assemblyman will be leading a hearing today to talk about possibly beefing up state regulators’ ability to oversee pipeline safety in the wake of the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion.

Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, who chairs the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Resources and Transportation, will be conducting the hearing from 9 a.m. to noon in the state capitol. The legislators will be reviewing the increased funding the California Public Utilities Commission has received to strengthen its safety oversight and enforcement over gas, electric, communications and rail public utilities throughout the state.

In particular, Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposes a budget of $5.896 million for the commission and increasing its staff to 41 people, which would include seven new positions in its gas safety division and an additional $300,000 to build a gas safety database.

Investigators and critics blasted the CPUC after the PG&E pipeline explosion in the Crestmoor neighborhood because it only had nine inspectors, who were each responsible for overseeing the safety of an average of 11,000 miles of pipeline.

The CPUC has since added nine more safety inspectors—a move that reflects a change in the culture of the commission, according to a staff report that explained the increased funding.

The “CPUC admits that policy objectives took priority over safety prior to the San Bruno explosion,” the staff report said. The “CPUC’s reactive safety strategy, premised on the assumption that utilities recognized public safety as their top priority, was inherently misguided.”

SOURCE: http://sanbruno.patch.com/articles/state-hearing-to-focus-on-increasing-funding-for-cpuc

City of San Francisco sues to force feds to improve pipeline safety

The city of San Francisco took the unusual step Tuesday of asking a judge to force federal natural-gas safety regulators to step up efforts in California, saying the government “abjectly failed” to enforce pipeline laws before and after the 2010 explosion that devastated a San Bruno neighborhood.

At issue in City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, is the performance of the little-known U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Although it is charged with enforcing federal safety law, the agency relies on states to do much of its oversight.

Herrera’s suit says federal officials never set standards and let California’s enforcement dwindle in the years leading up to the September 2010 explosion of a PG&E pipeline in San Bruno.

‘Blind trust in operators’

In its investigative report on the blast, which killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the pipeline agency tighten regulations on operators. The board’s chairwoman, Deborah Hersman, said PG&E had “exploited weaknesses in a lax system of oversight, and regulatory agencies that placed a blind trust in operators to the detriment of public safety.”

Herrera’s lawsuit echoes those findings, saying the pipeline agency stood by for more than a decade while the California Public Utilities Commission failed to detect PG&E’s safety problems, questionable pipeline-management practices and shoddy record keeping.

The state agency allowed utilities to police and report their own safety violations in lieu of being fined. The agency has changed its approach since the San Bruno disaster and recently proposed a $16.8 million penalty against PG&E for failing to conduct leak inspections on several miles of gas distribution pipelines in the East Bay.

“In the absence of any meaningful oversight by PHMSA, the CPUC has, for decades, forsaken its duty to enforce federal pipeline safety standards,” the city said in its suit. Under those circumstances, the suit said, “it is not a question of if another pipeline will explode, but a question of when.”

The pipeline safety agency issued a statement Tuesday declining to comment on the lawsuit but stressing its “core” commitment to safety.

“That’s why we devoted hundreds of hours of staff support and technical expertise to the NTSB and the California Public Utilities Commission to understand the San Bruno tragedy,” the agency said.

Failure to monitor

The suit said the federal government’s failures were putting San Franciscans at risk. It is the first time a local government has sought stricter regulation from the pipeline safety agency, said Rick Kessler, a lobbyist for the Pipeline Safety Trust, a nonprofit that focuses on safety improvements.

“If this brings better oversight and enforcement,” he said, “I applaud it.”

The suit seeks a court order to compel federal pipeline safety officials to set performance standards for state regulators who oversee gas transmission lines.

According to the complaint, the U.S. pipeline agency gave California $1.3 million in 2010 to oversee pipeline safety, yet “never meaningfully evaluated” how the money was spent or measured the effectiveness of the state’s program.

Federal officials knew California’s enforcement efforts had been understaffed since 1998, the suit said, resulting in a small proportion of federal funding being allocated to the state. Inspections became so infrequent by 2006 that the pipeline agency warned the Public Utilities Commission that California was jeopardizing public safety.

The explosion of a gas distribution pipeline in Cupertino in August, in which a condominium was destroyed, is evidence that the federal government hasn’t done enough to strengthen its regulatory efforts since the San Bruno disaster, the suit said.

That explosion happened because of a leak in a notoriously brittle type of 1970s-era plastic pipe, which the government recommended in 1998 that pipeline operators replace. Regulators have never ordered companies to do so, though.

Giving up authority

The federal agency, “for all practical purposes, has allowed gas pipeline operators like PG&E to regulate themselves and, in doing so, has improperly delegated its authority to enforce federal pipeline safety standards to those operators,” the suit said.

Although Herrera earlier threatened to sue the Public Utilities Commission as well, he said Tuesday that the state agency has improved its oversight of PG&E since 2010.

“We are participating in the administrative process to make sure the CPUC follows through on its pledge,” Herrera said in an interview.

PG&E had no comment on the suit except to emphasize actions it has taken since the San Bruno explosion to try to make its gas system safer.

SOURCE: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/02/14/MNKU1N7J3D.DTL#ixzz1mZJosbrD

PG&E chairman announces company will spend millions on improvements

Utility to spend nearly $400 million on gas and electrical infrastructure in an effort to repair its tarnished reputation.

Acknowledging that the company’s reputation is “in tatters,” PG&E’s new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Anthony Earley announced Thursday the utility will spend $400 million over the next two years to improve its electrical and natural gas infrastructure.

Earley, who took charge of PG&E in August, spent an hour with the Editorial Board of The Tribune outlining the changes he plans to make to restore customer trust in the utility in the aftermath of the deadly natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno and questions about the seismic safety of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

“We have to delight our customers,” he said. “Our reputation is in such tatters that we cannot afford to just satisfy our customers.”

Earley estimated it will take three to five years to restore trust in the utility “one customer, one constituency at a time.”

He also met with Diablo Canyon employees and urged them not to become complacent about safety.

Earley said the utility plans to hire a new chief nuclear officer who will focus solely on Diablo Canyon. Current chief nuclear officer John Conway also oversees electrical generation and splits his time between Diablo Canyon and company headquarters in San Francisco.

The new nuclear officer will be stationed at Diablo Canyon and will fill an intermediary position between Conway and plant manager Jim Becker. Earley did not say when the position would be filled, but said the utility is looking at candidates both inside and outside the company.

While management of the utility’s largest asset, Diablo Canyon, is ranked among the best in the nation, the company’s level of customer satisfaction, distribution system maintenance and speed of service are among the third and fourth quartiles of the industry, Earley said.

Chief among PG&E’s woes is the September 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people. Investigations have since revealed that the company’s pipeline record keeping was a shambles; the utility just recently admitted further gaps in its pipeline survey maps.

“As the San Bruno tragedy showed, if you don’t invest in infrastructure, you are going to have very serious problems,” he said. PG&E does not deliver natural gas in San Luis Obispo County; Southern California Gas Co. does.

Concerning Diablo Canyon, seismic safety and storage of highly radioactive used reactor fuel are two of the community’s biggest concerns. The utility is in the midst of performing $64 million in seismic studies to determine the earthquake potential of the faults surrounding the plant.

Earley said he supports the recommendations of a federal committee that has proposed the establishment of several temporary regional storage sites to take spent fuel from the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors. With abandonment of plans to build a federal repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, Diablo Canyon’s spent fuel will be stored onsite for the foreseeable future.

Citing the nuclear industry’s need to coordinate with federal regulators, Earley declined to make any promises that PG&E would lower the density of fuel assemblies stored in Diablo Canyon’s spent fuel pools by accelerating their transfer to dry casks. The pools are near their storage capacity, and PG&E has considered as a safety precaution reducing the density — possibly as low as 600 assemblies per pool — but not to their original, low-density configuration of 270 assemblies.

Earley also wouldn’t promise that the utility would meet a summer deadline to sign over property it owns in Wild Cherry Canyon behind Avila Beach to create a 65 percent addition to Montaña de Oro State Park.

“The concept is great,” he said, but added he has not had enough time to get up to speed on the project.

PG&E is the largest private employer in San Luis Obispo County with 1,500 employees. Approximately 1,400 of these work at Diablo Canyon. The utility has nearly 15 million customers in Northern and Central California.

SOURCE: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/01/19/1914608/pge-chairman-announces-improvements.html

Bill package targets gas pipeline safety

A state lawmaker who represents the San Bruno neighborhood devastated by a natural-gas explosion in 2010 introduced a package of bills Monday designed to prevent a repeat of the disaster, including one that would tie Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s rates to its safety performance.

Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, whose district includes the Crestmoor neighborhood where the PG&E gas explosion killed eight people, said the bills would build on recently enacted state laws mandating that pipeline operators pressure-test their gas lines, install emergency automatic shutoff valves on pipes and improve their emergency response protocols.

“Much work remains to be done … to prevent another disaster,” Hill said at a press conference outside the San Francisco offices of the California Public Utilities Commission, the agency that regulates PG&E and other pipeline operators in the state.

The package of three bills would:

— Require the PUC and pipeline operators to implement “in a timely manner” any gas-safety recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board.

— Require the commission to create a protection program for utility employees who disclose public safety threats.

— Order the PUC to consider the safety performance of PG&E and other utilities in setting gas rates that the companies can charge their customers.

Bill died last year

Hill introduced similar profit-limiting legislation last year, only to have it die in a Senate committee. “I vow to bring that legislation back every year until it is passed and signed by the governor,” he said.

Until recently, he said, PG&E was “gambling with the public safety – less money spent on pipeline safety inspections and pipeline replacements meant more money for profits.”

Hill said his bill tying gas rates to safety, AB1456, would “prevent this gamble from happening.” He said he was encouraged that the commission will hold a workshop Wednesday to determine how to consider safety performance in setting rates.

“The commission may be on its way to transforming itself from the lapdog it’s been to the bulldog it needs to be,” Hill said.

Hill’s legislation on adopting the National Transportation Safety Board’s gas safety recommendations, AB578, comes five months after the federal agency issued about a dozen recommendations to PG&E and the utilities commission in response to the San Bruno disaster. The board said a long history of mismanagement by PG&E of its gas system had caused the fatal explosion, and that the PUC hadn’t done enough to police the company.

Hill noted that the commission had “routinely ignored” past safety board recommendations, including that gas utilities install automatic shutoff valves on gas pipelines and replace a potentially brittle type of plastic distribution pipe, known as Aldyl-A, that was implicated in two PG&E explosions last year.

After those blasts in Cupertino and the Sacramento suburb of Roseville, PG&E announced plans to replace all 1,200 miles of its Aldyl-A pipe.

State says it’s acting

The PUC issued a statement Monday that outlined how it is complying with safety board recommendations, including requiring pressure testing of pipes, cutting pressure on gas lines whose maximum levels are in doubt, ordering records reviews and implementing a program to cite utilities promptly for safety violations.

Hill’s third bill, AB1197, would bar utilities from retaliating against workers who blow the whistle on safety problems.

PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer said the company would be giving Hill’s measures “the attention they deserve.”

He said PG&E is already encouraging its employees to identify safety problems and said the company already prohibits retaliation against workers for raising concerns.

“Our leadership is actively requesting employees to share that information so we can investigate,” Eisenhauer said.

SOURCE: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/09/BABF1MMSA5.DTL#ixzz1jAK7TC00

Congressional leaders OK tougher pipeline safety rules

Legislation toughening safety rules for the nation’s network of gas pipelines has emerged from a House-Senate conference committee, leading to likely approval in Congress.

The measure, inspired by the 2010 San Bruno disaster and other recent pipeline accidents, would double the maximum fine for safety violations to $2 million and require automatic and remote-controlled shutoff valves “where economically, technically and operationally feasible” on new gas pipelines.

Gas companies nationwide would be required to meet maximum pressure standards on all pipelines, meaning that older pipelines now exempted from high-pressure water tests would have to undergo such inspections. California regulators repealed the so-called grandfather clause in the state after a 1956 pipeline that had never been tested with high-pressure water exploded in San Bruno, killing eight people and destroying 38 homes.

However, the legislation doesn’t go as far as some safety advocates had hoped.

Only newly installed pipelines will be required to have automatic and remote shutoff valves in densely populated areas. The National Transportation Safety Board, along with Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, and California Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, had urged after the San Bruno disaster that existing lines be retrofitted with such valves.

Automatic shutoff valves became an issue after it took Pacific Gas and Electric Co. workers more than 90 minutes to manually cut the flow of gas after the San Bruno explosion in September 2010.

“In the grand scheme of things, given how things work around here, there are improvements,” said Erin Ryan, an aide to Speier. “As far as we’re concerned, they’re not strong enough, but there are improvements.”

Research efforts at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration would receive additional money if the bill passes.

But the legislation might also restore industry control over the federal pipeline research program by requiring industry funding.

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood ordered an end to industry funding and influence in the program in June after a Chronicle investigation.

The Chronicle investigation found that since 2002, two-thirds of the federal agency’s pipeline studies were largely funded by pipeline operators or organizations they control. In some cases, critical studies into issues such as the safety of aging lines were edited by trade organizations that have advocated reduced regulation, the Chronicle found.

The bill in Congress says federal research into pipeline safety must get at least 30 percent funding from “non-federal sources,” which traditionally have been pipeline companies and their trade groups.

The legislation is expected to go to a final vote in the House early this week.
SOURCE: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/12/09/MN821MAD7S.DTL#ixzz1gK0ExJ00

PG&E replacing plastic pipes in Cupertino

A San Francisco  neighborhood is being made safer.

PG&E is replacing thousands of feet of dangerous plastic pipeline that carries natural gas. That kind of pipe has a history of failure and it did so recently in the very spot where PG&E is now changing it out.

PG&E crews began carving out sections of the street to gain access to the old plastic pipeline.

“The lines you see here along the road and outside the homes, those are the main lines and from the main line and from there branching out to the individual service lines that go directly to the meter,” PG&E spokesperson Brian Swanson said.

Twelve-thousand feet of pipeline will be replaced after a gas leak caused an explosion that rocked a Cupertino neighborhood on August 31.

The type of plastic used in Cupertino has failed in the past. The maker, had warned pipe made prior to 1973 can crack.

Assm. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, says there were other warnings.

“The National Transportation Safety Board in 1998 came out with a recommendation that the pipes should be checked, monitored and replaced; here again nobody did anything about it,” Hill said.

PG&&E claims it has.

Still, the utility company says replacing all plastic pre-1973 pipes was not priority until now.

PG&E will replace 1,200 miles of the plastic pipeline system wide, which will take at least four years.

Hill will now introduce legislation demanding that all safety recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board be adopted by all utility companies.

SOURCE: http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/south_bay&id=8424072

PG&E to replace 1,200 miles of plastic gas pipe

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. will undertake a multiyear effort to remove more than 1,200 miles of plastic pipeline that has been linked to numerous failures nationwide, including two explosions in Northern California in the past six weeks.

The company’s decision to replace the pre-1973 pipe, marks a departure from a policy that PG&E had reaffirmed as recently as last week to assess its natural gas-distribution system before deciding which lines to replace.

The replacement project is likely to run into the millions of dollars, although PG&E would give no cost estimate. The company is likely to ask the California Public Utilities Commission to pass the cost along to customers.

The plastic pipe is used in distribution systems that deliver gas to homes. The manufacturer of the pipe warned customers nearly three decades ago that pipe made before 1973 was prone to cracking and sudden failure.

In 1998, the National Transportation Safety Board, noting instances in which this particular pipe and other plastic pipes had ruptured, urged pipeline companies to assess their lines and replace those with problems.

Two blasts
PG&E set aside $1.5 million in customers’ money starting in 2009 to assess its plastic pipelines’ reliability, but spent only a fraction of that and made little progress on the studies.

Then, on Aug. 31, one of these specific plastic pipelines in Cupertino that had sprung numerous leaks filled a condominium with gas, which ignited minutes after the owner had left. The building was destroyed. Less than a month later, another line installed in 1981 in Roseville (Placer County) exploded beneath a commercial intersection, touching off a seven-hour fire. No one was hurt.

PG&E said last Friday that it would start replacing pre-1973 plastic lines as soon as next year, after it presents a plan to state regulators. The company expects to take more than three years to complete the work.

First on the list
In the meantime, PG&E will replace 12,000 feet of line around the condominium complex in Cupertino and a 400-foot piece at the site of the Roseville fire. It will also replace distribution pipe at a mobile home park in St. Helena where a leak was discovered last year, PG&E spokesman David Eisenhauer said.

The company said it plans to digitize 15,000 maps of the plastic pipeline systems and create a database to track leaks. PG&E will also replace some of the 6,676 miles of newer lines based on how often they leak.

Eisenhauer said the effort is in the planning stages and carries unknown costs and time frames.

“This is something we have been looking at,” he said. “Part of the plan is determining where in our system there is a higher leak rate, and then prioritizing it.”

Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, has announced plans for legislation to require state regulators to act on National Transportation Safety Board recommendations, which could lead to an order for PG&E to remove its troubled plastic pipe.

‘Great news’
“I think it’s great news – it’s certainly an indication of good will in the future,” Hill said. “But we still need the legislation, to make sure safety recommendations are followed.”

Richard Kuprewicz, a pipeline consultant who advises the advocacy group The Utility Reform Network as well as the federal government on safety issues, said PG&E may be able to replace some of its lines without digging up the old pipe.

In some cases, new plastic pipe can be inserted in old lines, and in others PG&E can create a new distribution network around the old one, Kuprewicz said.

“It’s a fairly easy process,” he said, “but the devil’s in the details” – specifically, finding out which lines need to be replaced first.

“It’s very important that it be matched with a well-thought-out leak survey process,” Kuprewicz said.

SOURCE: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/10/14/BAK51LHQB7.DTL#ixzz1b8KaP1mu

California Governor signs pipeline safety laws

Six state bills on gas pipeline safety written in response to the deadly Sept. 9, 2010, explosion in San Bruno were signed into law last Friday.

Gov. Jerry Brown said the legislation would strengthen maintenance and oversight of natural gas transmission pipelines and improve coordination between gas line operators and first responders.

“We learned very important lessons from the tragic explosion in San Bruno,” Brown said. “These bills protect California’s communities by setting new standards for emergency preparedness, placing automatic shutoff valves in vulnerable areas and ensuring that gas companies pressure test transmission lines.”

The San Bruno explosion, which killed eight people, destroyed 38 homes and injured dozens of other people, prompted a rush of new safety legislation. Investigations at the state and federal level uncovered a long list of errors and problems that contributed to the disaster.

Assembly Bill 56 by Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, will require utilities to pressure test all pipelines, install remote-controlled shutoff valves in high population areas, and maintain accurate records. It also requires the California Public Utilities Commission to track money it grants for pipeline repairs to make sure it is being used properly, and prohibits utilities from using ratepayer money to pay penalties for safety violations.

“This is the strongest pipeline safety law in the country,” Hill said. “California is going beyond federal standards and being a leader.”

Senate Bill 44 by state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, requires stricter emergency response standards for natural gas operators and improves communication and coordination with emergency responders.

“After multiple investigations, we’ve learned what precipitated the San Bruno explosion and what needs to be done to prevent an occurrence,” Corbett said. “This bill fixes one of the identified problems: a poor and uncoordinated response to the disaster.”

Senate Bill 216 by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco (the district includes Woodside and Portola Valley), requires installation of automatic or remote-controlled shutoff valves on all pipelines that cross an active fault line or are located in densely populated areas.

“While much more needs to be done, SB 216 helps hold PG&E accountable and ensures residents are safe,” Yee said.

Yee also introduced a bill previously signed into law providing disaster relief for affected families and the County of San Mateo, City of San Bruno and local schools.

State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, authored Senate Bill 705, establishing a statewide policy directing the gas industry to make safety its top priority and prohibiting utilities from passing on the costs of safety improvements in the form of unreasonable rate increases, according to Leno.

Senate Bill 879, authored by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, increases fines for violations of CPUC rules.

SOURCE: http://www.almanacnews.com/news/show_story.php?id=9812