Case study: CPUC vs PG&E

In January 2020 the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) ordered PG&E to pay $110 million for violations related to the utility’s locate-and-mark program.

California utilities are required by law to identify and mark underground infrastructure at proposed excavation sites, to prevent third-party diggers from accidentally hitting a gas pipeline or powerline.

In December 2018, the CPUC launched an investigation into PG&E’s locate-and-mark protocols after the CPUC safety division found PG&E employees had undercounted thousands of “late tickets” — instances in which a site was not marked within two working days or an agreed upon deadline — due to falsified records. In total, investigators found more than 135,000 potentially inaccurate records, estimated to have contributed to 67 “dig-ins”, where a third-party struck underground infrastructure.

PG&E would have to pay $110 million in penalties, $66 million of which would fund system enhancements and $44 million to the state’s general fund.

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