SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California utility regulators on Thursday fined Pacific Gas and Electric Co. $97.5 million over improper back-channel communications with their own agency following a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion.

The California Public Utilities Commission animously approved the penalty that will require PG&E to pay $6 million each to the cities of San Bruno and San Carlos, and $12 million to the state’s general fund, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

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PG&E will also forgo $63.5 million in revenue it would otherwise have collected from its customers in 2018 and 2019 and another $10 million the next time the commission sets the PG&E’s rates.

The commission already fined the company $1.6 billion over the Sept. 9, 2010 explosion of a PG&E natural gas pipeline beneath San Bruno that killed eight people and the company has spent hundreds of millions of dollars settling victims’ lawsuits.

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Investigations into the explosion revealed improper private talks and emails between PG&E executives and two former commissioners, as well as their staff.

PG&E, the state’s largest utility, will not be able to pass on to its customers the costs of paying the fines, nor can it deduct those penalties from its taxes.

 

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