The California Public Utilities Commission today decided it could fine PG&E up to $6 million for failing to provide documentation justifying pressure levels in the utility’s gas transmission lines.

The commission agreed unanimously to fine the utility $6 million for being out of compliance with a records order that asked PG&E officials to prove maximum pressure was properly set on the company’s gas transmission lines.

PG&E could avoid paying half of the total fine if the company provides all the information requested about its older pipes to the CPUC by Aug. 31. The utility will have to periodically release records to commissioners until the end of August to remain in compliance with the CPUC.

The other half of the fine would be paid immediately to the state’s general fund, according to the CPUC.

PG&E was ordered on Jan. 3 to submit pipeline records–such as installed pipe compared to as-built drawings–in order to demonstrate it had established the proper maximum pressure for pipelines, CPUC officials said.

The directive was part of the fallout from the Sept. 9 pipeline explosion in San Bruno, which killed eight people and damaged or destroyed 50 homes.

PG&E instead used historical high-operation pressure information to determine the maximum pressure for the pipes.

The CPUC had directed PG&E to a find a basis for setting the maximum pressure that did not include the aforementioned “grandfathering” technique, the commission said.

PG&E had until March 15 to submit the requested records before being held in contempt and fined, the CPUC said.

Commission spokesman Andrew Kotch said PG&E submitted the stipulation that CPUC would charge the company $6 million and forgive half of the total fine if it complied with the CPUC investigation on its older pipes through Aug. 31.

An evidentiary hearing will be held Monday at 10 a.m. to discuss the stipulation.

An administrative law judge and two CPUC commissioners will be present.

Janna Brancolini, Bay City News

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