SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Pacific Gas and Electric has increased the amount of money it plans to spend on pipeline safety improvements over the next three years from $2.2 billion to $2.6 billion.

Repairing and replacing PG&E’s aging pipeline network is vital for restoring public trust after the deadly 2010 blast in San Bruno, CEO Anthony Earley said Thursday during a conference call to discuss the company’s 3rd quarter earnings report.

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KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

The utility reported net income after dividends on preferred stock around $200 million, down from $258 million a year ago.

PG&E spokesman Brian Herzog said the additional $400 million to be spent on pipeline maintenance would not come from ratepayers.

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“This is really a decision that is focused on doing what we need to do to put the system back in the condition that it needs to be and to deliver the kind of service that customers expect,” he said.

The extra out of pocket money did little to calm consumer advocates critical of PG&E for raising its rates to come up with the initial $2.2 billion.

“PG&E has a long way to go before it can restore this trust of customers, and if they hit customers with huge rate hikes, that will not do much to restore the trust at all,” said Mindy Spatt, spokeswoman for the Utility Reform Network.

TURN plans to challenge the rate of return PG&E can get from the investments before the Public Utilities Commission.

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