PG&E Accused by Regulators of Falsifying Pipeline Safety Records

(Bloomberg) -- PG&E Corp., already under scrutiny for a deadly California wildfire last month, now faces potential penalties for allegedly breaking natural gas pipeline safety rules and falsifying records, state regulators said.

The California Public Utilities Commission said Friday that the state’s biggest utility owner systematically violated rules to prevent construction crews from accidentally damaging pipelines during excavations. PG&E also allegedly falsified records for locating and marking pipes from 2012 to 2017, according to the statement.

“Utility falsification of safety related records is a serious violation of law and diminishes our trust in the utility’s reports on their progress,” commission President Michael Picker said in the statement. “These findings are another example of why we are investigating PG&E’s safety culture.”

PG&E Accused by Regulators of Falsifying Pipeline Safety Records

The commission said it will consider penalties against PG&E and ordered the utility to take "immediate corrective measures."

PG&E shares fell 2 percent in after-hours trading Friday. In a statement, the company said it failed to live up to its commitment to accurate and thorough reporting and record-keeping. PG&E is cooperating with the investigation and has taken action to meet regulatory standards related to records for marking and locating pipelines, spokesman Matt Nauman said.

PG&E already faces lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny as its equipment is probed in connection to the deadliest wildfire in California history, which killed 86 people in the Sierra Nevada foothills last month. After the blaze, Picker said he would open a sweeping review of the company’s governance, structure and safety culture.

The commission ordered PG&E last month to adopt a number of safety recommendations in response to a 2010 gas-pipeline explosion that killed eight people in a San Francisco suburb.

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