Top regulator proposes PG&E pay $1.6 billion penalty in deadly 2010 pipeline explosion

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SAN FRANCISCO — California's top regulator on Friday proposed Pacific Gas & Electric Co. pay $1.6 billion as the penalty for causing a deadly 2010 gas-pipeline explosion in the San Francisco Bay Area.

California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Picker proposed a fine that is $200 million higher than one recommended by administrative law judges last year.

Picker's proposal would require PG&E shareholders to pay $850 million that would go toward gas transmission safety improvements. It also orders PG&E to pay a $300 million fine that would go into the state's general fund and it mandates the utility pay $400 million in bill credit. It directs approximately $50 million towards other remedies.

The fiery explosion of a PG&E pipeline killed eight people and leveled a residential neighborhood in the suburban San Francisco city of San Bruno. A probe into the blast by the National Transportation Safety Board faulted both the utility and what investigators said was lax oversight by the state utilities commission.

The five-member commission could vote on the final penalty during its public session April 9.

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