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Commission to expand inquiry into PG&E safety culture

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A new phase is opening in the investigation into PG&E’s safety culture, the president of the California Public Utilities Commission said in a statement Thursday.

Michael Picker said:

“I will open a new phase examining the corporate governance, structure, and operation of PG&E, including in light of the recent wildfires, to determine the best path forward for Northern Californians to receive safe electrical and gas service in the future.”

PG&E was sued Tuesday by victims of the Camp Fire following a sign the company may be responsible for the start of the fire in Butte County.

Just prior to the start of the fire on Nov. 8, PG&E reported power went out on a transmission line in the area.

The Camp Fire is the worst in state history. As of this evening, the fire has burned 141,000 acres, killed 63 people and destroyed approximately 9,700 homes.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined yet, according to Cal Fire.

Terrie Prosper, spokeswoman for the commission, said it would not be in the best interest of consumers if PG&E filed for bankruptcy, “but that decision is not the CPUC’s.”

Prosper said:

“An essential component of providing safe electrical service is ensuring that the utilities have the financial wherewithal to carry out safety measures.”

One way companies can raise money is to issue stocks and bonds.

Prosper would not say whether the commission can recommend PG&E be turned into a nonprofit, so the company does not have to answer to stockholders.

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