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Regulators May Allow PG&E To Pass Pipeline Costs On To Customers

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) - Will customers' PG&E bills go up, to make certain that the state's natural gas pipelines are safe?


If the utility can't prove that its pipelines are safe, it may need to inspect and possibly even replace hundreds of miles of lines in California.

KCBS' Doug Sovern Reports:

New California Public Utilities Commission commissioner Mike Florio said it was simply too soon to say what inspections PG&E would have to do, and who would pay for the hundreds of millions of dollars it could cost.


"There will be a full public proceeding to look at that and the answer may be different for different aspects," he suggested.


Rep. Jackie Speier (CA-12) warned the utility shouldn't be allowed to pass those costs on to customers.


"I don't believe the ratepayers should have to pick up the tab for incompetence by PG&E."


Speier reasoned that if the utility had properly checked and tested all of its lines, it would have caught the failing welds in the pipeline that blew last September in San Bruno.


Others argued it was reasonable for customers to pick up some of the tab.


"The cost of inspecting and getting the pipelines back in place ought to be shared by shareholders and ratepayers," argued The Utility Reform Network's Mark Toney. "But here's the important thing. We want to make sure that the money that's spent is actually spent on the right things."


(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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