PG&E: Customers to pay for safety
Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 9:13 p.m.
PG&E officials Tuesday reiterated their position that ratepayers should bear the bulk of the cost of its Pipeline Safety Enhancement Plan, which the company pegged at $2.2billion.
Tom Bottorff, PG&E's senior vice president of regulatory relations, said that customers should pay for $1.84 billion of pipeline safety costs, with PG&E shareholders paying for $360 million. The company previously said shareholders should pay for $320 million.
Bottorff said in a telephone news conference that the company believes its shareholders should not have to pay for the entire cost because PG&E is being asked to comply with new regulations that require records and testing of pre-1970 pipelines. The California Public Utilities Commission adopted new standards in June of last year, he said.
Both the standards and PG&E's pipeline safety plan are a response to the 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people and damaged dozens of homes.
The press briefing was part of PG&E's response to recent testimony from groups participating in the company's pipeline safety proceeding. Among the groups, the state's Division of Ratepayer Advocates has testified that ratepayers should not be made to pay for a plan that merely ensures the safety of PG&E's gas pipeline system.
Bottorff said that if PG&E's proposal is accepted by the state PUC, the average PG&E customer would likely see an increase of $1.85 a month in gas bills, based on the use of about 37 therms a month.
Because the pipeline safety initiative is being financed, Bottorff said the ultimate cost of the plan could reach $5 billion due to interest payments.
You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or email@example.com.
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