The Blue Ribbon panel appointed by the CPUC has blasted PG&E, suggesting that PG&E knew about the weaknesses in its system for years before the explosion but did essentially nothing. According to Steve Johnson, writing for the San Mateo Times, the panel noted:
that an internal PG&E review three years before the San Bruno explosion had listed the company’s gas system as among several catastrophic risks facing the utility. . .Yet, when the expert panel checked to see how PG&E responded to the red flags, it was dismayed.
The panel’s finding really isn’t much of a surprise. Weeks after the explosion, I wrote here that PG&E knew about a potential catastrophe, but failed to warn its customers. Martin Ricard published that story way back on September 23.
Now the Department of Justice and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office are launching a criminal investigation. What does that mean for the victims? Generally, criminal investigations mean delay for civil lawsuits. Management representatives, when questioned under oath, tend to assert their 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination and refuse to testify until the criminal proceedings are concluded.
We’ll see what PG&E management does here.
The panel’s full report is here.