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To Set Utility Rates, California Regulators Put Safety First

By Kelly Balamuth on January 18, 2012

Safety has become a top concern among state regulators as they seek to set utility rates for gas and electric service for the New Year, according to a recent article in The San Jose Mercury-News. Regulators are attempting to balance the need to improve safety, especially replacing aging equipment, with the risks of pushing utility rates up even higher when many households are already struggling to make ends meet.

In particular, regulators are concerned about Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s (PG&E) plans to pass off to customers 90 percent of the cost of improving the company’s aging gas pipelines in San Bruno and other areas. The cost is expected to reach $2.2 billion before the company has finished. PG&E has already received criticism for failing to update its pipelines in 2010 before the San Bruno compressed gas accident that killed several people. According to the Mercury-News, the company had received several million dollars for equipment safety updates, but had declined to spend the money because it felt the safety fixes weren’t “urgent.”

The new regulations being proposed would require utility companies to explain how their current setup is dangerous and detail how any money for repairs or updates would be spent to improve safety. The rate-setting decision would involve a safety expert working for the regulatory commission, and more oversight would be required on how utility companies actually work to improve and maintain safety.

Utility safety is a serious issue, since most of us live with utilities in our homes and offices every day. If you or someone you love has been injured by a dangerous utility or product, the experienced Walnut Creek dangerous product injury attorneys at Balamuth Harrington can help. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at (888) 254-1234.

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