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PG&E Marks Milestone in Pipeline Safety Improvements

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has checked off the 10th of 12 recommendations from federal regulators leveled at the combination utility four years ago after the San Bruno natural gas transmission pipeline explosion and other shortcomings exposed in its gas operations.

The recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 2011 were part of a report that blasted both the San Francisco-based utility and its primary regulator, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which more recently has come under fire for being allegedly "too cozy" with utility company executives (see Daily GPI, Feb. 2; Aug. 31, 2011).

NTSB has designated a 10th recommendation as "closed-acceptable action" regarding PG&E making its supervisory control and data acquisition of its pipeline system acceptable to the federal regulators, and drawing a commendation, according to PG&E, for "exceeding the scope of the recommendations."

PG&E called attention to the latest milestone as another indication that it is making progress with safety upgrades and is "embracing" the NTSB recommendations.

PG&E President Chris Johns said the utility is still working "to earn the trust and confidence of our customers by showing them that safety always comes first in everything we do."

While regulators and lawmakers have continued to find fault with the utility, Johns stressed that PG&E has "made incredible progress" on all of the NTSB recommendations. PG&E’s head of gas operations, Executive Vice President Nick Stavropoulos, reiterated that "there is still work to be done."

The remaining two NTSB recommendations involve hydrotesting in populated areas and installation of additional automated valves, a PG&E spokesperson told NGI on Thursday. “Work on the remaining two is under way and considered 'open-acceptable’ status, according to the NTSB,” the spokesperson said.

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