SAN BRUNO (KCBS) — The State Public Utilities Commission has appointed a five-member Independent Review Panel to investigate the San Bruno PG&E pipeline explosion, and with winter approaching the panel must move fast.

The new PUC panel will be charged with both investigating the cause of the fatal blast in September that killed eight people and determining the safety of PG&E transmission lines in general.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

The 47-mile-long line, known as 132, has been reduced to 80 percent pressure pending the outcome of that probe and is prompting PUC Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon to ask some very important questions.

“At 80 percent, if we were to get a premature freeze, is PG&E in the position where it has adequate capacity to meet a large winter withdrawal,” inquired Simon.

PG&E spokesman Andrew Souvall said adequate supplies concern the utility as well.

“We need to be able to ensure that we’re able to get the amount of gas here during the cold weather to ensure that all of our customers are able to have access to gas,” said Souvall.

One of the tasks of the panel will be to determine if it’s safe to increase transmission line pressure back to 100 percent to deal with winter heating needs in San Francisco and on the Peninsula.

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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