IBEW 1245 issued the following statement in connection with the federal indictment of PG&E in connection with the San Bruno disaster.
IBEW Local Union 1245 represents over 11,000 PG&E employees, the people on the ground providing natural gas and electric service to PG&E customers. Our members know better than anyone what PG&E did and didn’t do in the years leading up to the San Bruno disaster.
The federal indictment filed April 1st against the company says that PG&E willfully failed to identify and evaluate threats to its transmission pipelines. We know of nothing that would rise to the level of willful. It is possible there are things we don’t know. But based on what we do know, the company failures that led to the San Bruno explosion were not willful.
Our members can attest to the giant strides that PG&E has made on its gas system since the San Bruno disaster. Close to $3 billion in shareholder money has been invested in improvements to the company’s gas infrastructure. Our members have seen first-hand the rapid increase in investment, and how that investment is translating into a more secure natural gas delivery system. We’ve seen it because we are the ones who are doing the work.
This important work has proceeded despite the uncertainty and delay regarding future fines and penalties, uncertainty that has raised the eyebrows of rating agencies.
The thousands of IBEW members who have been directly involved in making improvements to the system now worry that the federal indictments will distract PG&E from the on-going work that needs to be done. The job of making PG&E’s gas system the safest one possible is not finished. We fear that the federal indictments will have the unintended consequence of delaying and impeding important work that is crucial to the gas system’s safety in the years ahead.
We have no way of knowing the motivations of those who chose to file the indictment. We believe the top priority in the wake of the San Bruno tragedy should be to fix the problems on the ground and under the ground so that Californians can be confident that the system is safe. We do not see how the goal of building a safer and more reliable system is served by these federal indictments; we worry that the indictments will get in the way of achieving that goal.
IBEW Local 1245 members hope that common sense and pragmatism will prevail. We hope that the U.S. Attorney will recognize that diverting PG&E from its primary mission does not serve the best interests of the public.
If PG&E had not moved quickly to do the right thing in the wake of San Bruno, perhaps these criminal charges could be justified as a “wake-up call.” But that is not the situation we are in today. PG&E has moved aggressively to right its ship. Its progress has been profound and measureable. We hope the U.S. Attorney will guide the criminal process to a quick settlement that focuses on the future, because there is still much work that remains to be done.