San Bruno, CA, the suburb south of San Francisco that endured a devastating natural gas pipeline rupture and explosion almost three years ago, on Wednesday filed a motion with California state regulators calling for postponement or changes in an upcoming two-day utility safety symposium. And the regulators on Thursday said they will postpone the event.
While there are still a number of legal and regulatory proceedings aimed at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) for the San Bruno pipeline explosion, the city expressed concerns about two members of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and PG&E executives jointly sharing a podium at the scheduled May 7-8 event.
“Although the symposium is a forward-looking event and issues related to the CPUC’s ongoing PG&E pipeline cases would not be discussed, to eliminate any possible public concern over the fairness of the CPUC’s process, [we have] decided to postpone the symposium to a future date,” a CPUC spokesperson told NGI.
San Bruno, which has been critical of both the CPUC and PG&E following the September 2010 incident, demanded in its motion that CPUC President Michael Peevey and Commissioner Mike Florio “recuse themselves” from the event billed as a “2013 Safety Symposium,” which has two PG&E senior executives scheduled on the program.
“It is illegal and unethical for the regulatory agency to participate when it will stand in judgment of the utility and fine it for the Sept. 9, 2010 explosion and fire,” said a spokesperson for San Bruno. “The safety symposium will focus on the same subject matter that is at issue in the CPUC investigations: natural gas, safety and emergency response.”
While the city acknowledged that “on its face,” the scheduled safety meeting was “a step forward in promoting natural gas safety,” San Bruno charged in its motion that the regulators and utility executives appearing on the same program would be an illegal ex-parte contact with all of the state regulatory proceedings involving PG&E pending.
“San Bruno has participated in these proceedings in good faith for more than two years in reliance on the belief that a just, transparent, reasonable outcome that is in the public interest can be achieved,” the city’s CPUC motion said.
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