City Manager News ReleaseCity of San Carlos
City Manager's Office

City Hall
600 Elm Street
Phone: (650) 802-4228
Fax: (650) 595-6729


Subject :

PG&E Rushes to Fully Pressurize Natural Gas Line 147 in San Carlos
Contact :Jeff Maltbie, City Manager, Office of the City Manager    (650) 802-4228
SAN CARLOS, CA, December 20, 2013 – Yesterday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) affirmed Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey's proposed decision (PD) allowing Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to repressurize Line 147 in San Carlos up to 330 psi despite the City of San Carlos' on-going concerns and expert’s opinion questioning the safety of the line. According to a PG&E spokesperson, the repressurization process began at 11:00 this morning and the line is now fully pressurized.

Throughout the rushed CPUC proceedings, the City of San Carlos made several requests for more time to allow the City and its experts to investigate the safety of Line 147 and communicate its findings to the CPUC before allowing increased pressure. The City requested an opportunity to examine the line and report its findings to the CPUC in response to safety concerns identified by a PG&E engineer in an internal email from November 2012. The City’s engineering expert, Dr. Glen Stevick, indicated that there is a risk of flaws that can survive hydrotesting (which PG&E conducted on the line before declaring it safe). These flaws can later grow and fail, and operating at 240 psi with more testing in about 10 years can eliminate risk and increase safety to an acceptable engineering standard of care.

City officials attended a whirlwind of meetings this week, both in Sacramento with the Governor’s office and in San Francisco with CPUC Commissioners and staff, to explain the City’s concerns; to no avail. The City hoped to delay the CPUC’s determination to permit a thorough review of Dr. Stevick’s findings concerning the line’s safety before allowing a potentially dangerous gas line to be fully pressurized. Former CPUC President and Commissioner Greg Conlon stated, "The CPUC should allow a hearing for the City of San Carlos to present the City’s expert witness’s opinion on the proper pressure that should be used for Line 147."

City Manager Jeff Maltbie expressed his frustration by stating, “The CPUC’s process did not allow us to fully present all our concerns about the line’s safety before the Commission. We want the opportunity for this issue to be thoroughly evaluated and the CPUC’s pattern of rushing to judgment to stop. Over the last year, PG&E has had a poor track record here in San Carlos. The utility was justly fined $14.3 million dollars as a result of its failure to put safety first in our community. Despite these glaring deficiencies, PG&E has yet to provide records classifying approximately 25% of Line 147. In the meantime, we will continue to press the CPUC to fulfill its regulatory obligation to our citizens and hold PG&E accountable for ensuring Line 147 is operated safely.”

Mayor Mark Olbert stated, “We are disappointed in the CPUC’s decision. We continue to be concerned about the safety of the residents of San Carlos and are actively evaluating next steps to ensure our community is protected.”