San Bruno blast aftermath: Officials urge prosecutors to file charges over allegations of state PUC corruption

N/ SAN BRUNO – 3 Bay Area officials urged on Friday that the state Lawyer Normal file costs from the state Public Utilities Commission in reference to allegations of corruption, obstruction and comfortable ties among the effective agency and big electric power businesses this sort of as PG&E.

State Senator Jerry Hill, state Assemblymember Kevin Mullin and San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane asked Attorney Basic Xavier Becerra to seek that prices be filed as a result of the state’s long-running criminal investigation of alleged corruption at the state PUC, whose primary areas of oversight and regulation include PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric.

Numerous emails have revealed a web of close ties between the PUC and the a few ability firms. A fatal explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people in 2010 was caused by a lethal combination of PG&E’s shoddy maintenance, flawed record keeping and lazy oversight by the PUC, federal investigators have determined.

In 2008, former PUC president Michael Peevey intervened in a rate case involving his former employer, Southern California Edison, and through a subsequent and controversial settlement, Edison ended up with hundreds of millions of dollars more from ratepayers.

Sen. Hill, Assemblyman Mullin and Mayor Ruane recently gained access to long-sealed court records, the officers said, that revealed ongoing obstructive behavior by the PUC and its representatives.

The state Legal professional General’s Office has been investigating allegations of corruption at hte PUC for three years. In January 2015, state investigators served search warrants at the residences of Peevey and a former PG&E regulatory executive.

“As a result of sealed court records released last week, we now know which the PUC has been blocking the state investigation at every turn,” the officers wrote in the letter. “Since the first warrant was issued, the PUC’s lawyers have impeded your progress, refused to turn over documents and filed motions to quash your search warrants.”

The San Bruno explosion’s aftermath has produced evidence of cozy arrangements involving the PUC, PG&E and Southern California Edison; led to the largest financial punishment ever imposed from an American utility in the form of a $1.6 billion penalty levied by the PUC versus PG&E; resulted in a criminal trial that led to six convictions from PG&E; and concluded with a sentencing that caused PG&E to be branded as a convicted felon.

PUC officials quickly responded Friday that they have been cooperative.

“The PUC has cooperated with the Attorney General’s office through every step of the investigation as well as with federal investigators whose demands for documents preceded those of the Attorney Normal,” Throughout the process the PUC has produced more than one million documents to the Lawyer Common.

The search warrants served in early 2015 were seeking evidence of improper contacts and communications, judge-shopping, bribery, obstruction of justice, favors and preferential treatment, the officers stated in their letter.

“There were sufficient facts alleged in the affidavit that would lead to a strong suspicion of guilt” that former PUC official Peevey and Southern California Edison executives “conspired to obstruct justice, or the due administration of the laws,” according to court records that Hill, Mullin and Ruane discovered.

The three officials indicated that if the Attorney Standard delays for too long, the statute of limitations could expire for one or more potential expenses that could be brought from the PUC.

“The fallout from San Bruno is not over,” the lawmakers stated in a reference to the fatal explosion in the Peninsula city and the deaths and injuries the PG&E-caused blast produced. “Please honor the victims by bringing justice in this long-overdue case.”