California’s chief utility regulator last week warned Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) that it may face more oversight because of alleged shortcomings in its safety practices. 

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Marybel Batjer warned the San Francisco-based combination utility that it may be in violation of some of the six-part enhanced oversight as a condition of the Chapter 11 reorganization plan.

CPUC staff “is conducting a fact-finding to determine whether a recommendation is warranted to place PG&E into the enhanced oversight and enforcement process that was a condition of its reorganization plan approval,” said spokesperson Julie Hall. There “appears to be a pattern” of shortcomings on vegetation and asset management.

“I plan to hold PG&E accountable, in real time to fulfill its safety responsibilities, independent and parallel to any other regulatory or judicial process,” Batjer said in a letter to interim CEO Bill Smith.

Batjer said the regulatory staff is also examining PG&E’s follow-through on its wildfire mitigation plan and recent filing to federal court in its five-year criminal probation for the 2010 San Bruno, CA, gas transmission pipeline rupture and explosion.

North American Pipelines: [Check out NGI’s 2020 Map of North American Natural Gas Pipelines, LNG Facilities & Shale Plays]

“The CPUC continues to make customer safety a top priority and expects leadership from PG&E to execute on its safety responsibilities,” Batjer said. “When PG&E is unable to do this on its own, we have used, and will continue to use, the tools and authority at our disposal to hold PG&E accountable for these responsibilities.”

PG&E spokesperson James Noonan said the utility’s “focus every day” is on safety for customers, communities and employees. 

“We recognize the issues that have been raised and we are listening to this feedback and taking it seriously,” he said. “We made substantial operational and safety improvements this year and we are continuing to make significant progress on our 2020 Wildfire Mitigation Plan. There are some issues that the CPUC’s Wildfire Safety Division has raised, and we are working to address those concerns.”