The Mayor of San Bruno, California – the site of one of the worst natural gas disasters in U.S. history – today called on utility regulators to fix a broken pipeline regulation system following the Sept. 9, 2010 Pacific Gas & Electric explosion in San Bruno that killed eight, injured 60, destroyed 38 homes and damaged scores more.
Speaking at the Summer Committee Meetings event of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in Denver, Ruane called for reform of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and a new regulatory model in the United States. He challenged regulators to develop relationships with the cities in which they enforce and to avoid the conflicts of interest with utility companies and a “check-the-box” mentality that crippled San Bruno in 2010.
“It is critical that our regulators end this cozy relationship with industry and finally start taking an active role in monitoring pipeline safety,” Ruane said. “While we cannot take back the innocent lives that were so tragically lost, we hope to share those lessons so that what happened in San Bruno never happens again, anywhere.”
Ruane was joined on a panel discussion about pipeline safety in the wake of the 2010 PG&E gas line explosion and fire in San Bruno by Jack Hagan, Director of the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division, and Timothy Alan Simon, a former CPUC Commissioner. Paul Roberti, a Rhode Island Public Utilities Commissioner, moderated the panel.
Since the tragic 2010 explosion and fire, the City of San Bruno has called for PG&E to face the maximum penalty for gross negligence that culminated in the blast. Nearly three years since the incident, the CPUC is now months away from determining the PG&E penalty.