PG&E lacks documentation, will test pipelines in wake of San Bruno blast 

More than 250 miles of high-pressure gas pipelines throughout California will immediately be tested or replaced because PG&E lacks documentation to prove they are safe.

On Sept. 9, a gas pipeline owned by Pacific Gas and Electric exploded in San Bruno, killing 8 people, injuring dozens more, and destroying much of a neighborhood in the San Francisco suburb.

Though a final cause for that explosion has not yet been pegged by federal investigators, preliminary reports show that the pipeline running through San Bruno had incorrect and incomplete safety records, and that the pipeline was being operated at a much higher pressure than it would have been had those records been correct.

In response to those revelations, regulators at CPUC in January mandated that PG&E and other utilities in California must search every record to determine what other pipelines may also have incomplete or incorrect records. The deadline to file those findings was Tuesday, and they were filed immediately before the close of business.

PG&E was forced to pore over some 1.25 million documents looking for safety records, and on Tuesday the utility said that it only has complete testing records for a little more than half of the transmission pipelines it was ordered to investigate. The company stated it will in coming years replace or test all of the hundreds of miles of pipelines it cannot find full records for.

The details about Pacific Gas & Electric Corp’s pipeline safety records came the same day that regulators agreed to a gas rate hike. The average resident who uses 37 therms per month would experience a 0.7 percent increase in their monthly bill. The increase still must be approved by the full California Public Utilities Commission.

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Katie Worth

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