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PG&E Memo Says Downgrading Leaks Could Cut Costs

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS / AP) — A Pacific Gas & Electric Co. memo from a few years before the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion suggested that managers might want to consider downgrading leaks found on natural gas lines, instead of fixing them.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a March 2008 summary of possibly serious leaks in PG&E’s distribution system suggests downgrades could save the company nearly $5 million.

PG&E spokesman Dave Eisenhauer said the utility did not intend for executives to automatically downgrade or disregard risks, just to observe trends. He says the memo was later suspended.

At the time, the company also had a bonus system that rewarded supervisors whose crews found fewer leaks and lowered repair costs. PG&E ended that program after company whistle-blowers complained and PG&E’s board of directors found supervisors had been encouraged to ignore potential safety threats.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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