PUC Orders PG&E to Implement Recommendations to Improve its Safety Culture and Operations

SAN FRANCISCO, November 29, 2018 – The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today ordered Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to implement the safety recommendations of CPUC staff as outlined in a report by an independent third-party.

Today’s decision comes in the CPUC’s investigation to determine whether PG&E’s and PG&E Corporation’s organizational culture and governance prioritize safety and adequately direct resources to promote accountability and achieve safety goals and standards.

Advertisement

The CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division evaluated PG&E’s and PG&E Corp.’s organizational culture, governance, policies, practices, and accountability metrics in relation to PG&E’s record of operations, including its record of safety incidents. The Safety and Enforcement Division produced a report on the issues with the assistance of an independent consultant, NorthStar Consulting Group.

The recommendations that PG&E is ordered to implement include: development of a comprehensive safety strategy, with associated timelines/deliverables, resource requirements and budgets, personnel qualifications, clear delineation of roles and responsibilities; action plans, assignment of responsibility for initiatives; and associated metrics to assess effectiveness.

“The CPUC initiated this proceeding after the pipeline explosion in San Bruno occurred to determine whether PG&E has an adequate safety culture. Sadly, the events of September 9, 2010, continue to echo today. Evidence shows that, although there are a few bright spots, PG&E appears not to have a clear vision for safety programs and instead pursues many programs without thought to how they fit together, despite eight years passing since the explosion in San Bruno,” said CPUC President Michael Picker. “I plan to open a new phase in this proceeding to examine the corporate governance, structure, and operation of PG&E to determine the best path forward for Northern California to receive safe electrical and natural gas service. As I reviewed the Northstar report, I found myself asking how Northern California can be served better and whether there is a different model to ensure safe and reliable electric and natural gas service. One of the challenges of changing an institution such as PG&E is that the utility must continue to operate every day. To operate the grid in a safe manner, PG&E must be able to sign contracts and raise capital. This is a bit like remodeling an airplane in mid-flight. We don’t want to crash the plane while we are trying to make it safer; that’s bad for the passengers.”

“I am committed to continue looking seriously at structural issues at PG&E and our regulation of the company. Achieving a genuine safety culture at the utility is paramount,” said Commissioner Liane M. Randolph.

“This assessment, the first of its kind at the CPUC, produced a multitude of improvements for PG&E to act on and should be just one step in an ongoing process of improvement for PG&E.  I hope this process can produce similar results for our other electric utilities,” said Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen.

The proposal voted on is available at: http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M243/K614/243614812.PDF.

The CPUC regulates services and utilities, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services.  For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.