SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The California Public Utilities Commission has set the terms for an independent oversight officer who will monitor PG&E for the next five years.

PG&E agreed to an Independent Safety Monitor as a condition of exiting bankruptcy in May 2020. The utility is currently under watch by a federal monitor that was mandated after their 2016 federal conviction related to a 2010 fatal pipeline explosion in San Bruno, but that monitor’s five-year term is set to expire in January 2022.

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On Thursday, the CPUC adopted a resolution on the selection process, jurisdiction, salary and term for the Independent Safety Monitor. The new monitor will also serve a term of five years with an annual budget of $5 million paid for by PG&E shareholders. Along with regularly reporting to the CPUC, the monitor will publish public summary reports of their work every six months.

The safety monitor’s jurisdiction is designed to augment and not overlap with other oversight programs already created by the CPUC and other state institutions such as the Office of Energy Infrastructure Safety.

Its roles include monitoring the implementation and assessment of public safety risk reduction for PG&E’s personnel and electric and gas systems, as well as PG&E’s safety-related recordkeeping.

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Incorrect recordkeeping played a key role in both PG&E’s 2016 criminal conviction and a separate civil proceeding where the CPUC fined the utility $1.6 billion, also related to the San Bruno explosion.

A National Transportation Safety Board probe found that the cause of the explosion was a defective seam on a pipeline segment recorded by PG&E as being seamless.

Through PG&E will be in charge of soliciting applications for the safety monitor position, it will be subject to the direction of the CPUC’s Safety Policy Division in the search process and responsibility for reviewing and selecting candidates will fall solely to the CPUC’s executive director.

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