SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Pacific Gas and Electric reportedly offered $550 million to settle state regulatory charges connected with the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion.

The utility is facing the potential of a big fine for the September 2010 explosion that killed eight people and destroyed dozens of homes in San Bruno.

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PG&E offered the money as a settlement, but refused to admit that it failed to maintain a safe gas system. A chunk of the money would have gone to the state’s general fund, but with the caveat that the company would not have to admit violating a state law requiring it to maintain a safe system.

PG&E contends making such an admission could have exposed it to possible criminal charges.

Consumer groups and San Bruno city leaders strongly opposed the offer and it was rejected by state regulators.

Mindy Spatt with TURN, The Utility Reform Network, said the company needs to be held accountable for what happened.

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“That’s what customers can get out of this process. Some assurance that the laxity and mismanagement of the past is not going to happen again,” Spatt said.

PG&E spokesperson Brittany Chord would not talk about the specifics of the negotiations, but said the company continues to look for a solution.

“PG&E has been and continues to be a party to this process that is led by the CPUC. We’ll continue to negotiate in good faith,” she said. “And we hope to come to a resolution that is fair for all parties.”

If a deal isn’t reached by January 7, the case could go to trial.

It’s believed that that two sides have stopped talking and have made no plans to discuss a possible deal before the January deadline.

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