PG&E’s Rap Sheet…So Far – Portrait of a ‘Corporado.’

Investor-Owned Utilities Aren’t Called ‘IOUs’ for Nothing…

During Pacific Gas and Electric’s recent unsuccessful ‘Prop. 16’ attempt to enshrine its monopoly in California’s constitution and kill in the cradle the growing movement for local power generation projects (known as community choice aggregation, or CCAs), state legislator Tom Amianno referred to PG&E as a ‘corporado.’ As one who has repeatedly locked horns with the utility in his various public service roles, he knew whereof he spoke.

Here’s a list of some of the known PG&E actions, adapted, with additions, from a timeline put together by

* The company known as Pacific Gas and Electric incorporated on October 10, 1905, as a consolidation of more than two dozen power and water concerns around the state. PG&E went on to consolidate power in northern California and by 1952 represented 520 companies merged.
* PG&E officials indicted in SF political boss Abe Ruef‘s bribery scandal following 1906 SF earthquake fire.
* SF labor leader Tom Mooney fingered by PG&E Pinkerton agents.
* PG&E organized the Greater California League, spending $500,000 in 1922 to kill statewide initiative drive to municipalize utilities.
* Coalition leader on changing the history in school text books to protect how American’s perceived their role in electric power development.
* The takeover of Hetch Hetchy dam despite the 1913 Raker Act’ stipulation that dam must be used not only to store water but also to generate electric power, which must be sold directly to the citizens through a municipal power agency at the cheapest possible rates. [ full story here: ]
* The utility gained its huge size by taking over locally owned power companies from Santa Barbara in the South to Eureka in the north.
* The aggressive takeover of Friant and Shasta dam electricity that had been destined for rural coops in northern California.
* The coalition leader in developing nuclear power in U.S.
* Holds the distinction of being the focus of the first anti-nuclear movement in history, starting in 1958 when they tried to push through 4 nuclear reactors on the epicenter of the 1906 earthquake at Bodega Bay.
* Its 2nd reactor complex at Humboldt bay was dubbed the dirtiest nuclear reactor in the U.S. and shut down in the late 70’s when plutonium was found on children’s playground a mile away.
* Bribed the Sierra club into allowing the siting of Diablo Canyon at the 2nd to last coastal wilderness in California. The scandal led to David Brower leaving the Sierra Club and forming Friends of the Earth.
* Pushed to build over 60 nuclear reactors in its service area. But ended up taking on over 20 years of opposition to its push to build reactors all over the state.
* Opposed lifeline electric rates in the state, but failed.
* Attempted to take the very law it had helped to pass a few years earlier that limited its ability to construct new reactors in the state, all the way to the U.S. Supreme court, but failed.
* Caught in PCB transformer scandals that contaminated a city building and its own workers.
* Designed and built the Helms Stored River project, that went nearly 10x’s over original budget and killed a score of workers.
* Forced to rebuild the Diablo Canyon reactors 3 times, running the cost up from $300 million to $5.8 billion.
* A newly hired engineer discovers that PG&E had built the seismic supports for the reactors backwards, just after the Abalone Alliance had completed the largest civil disobedience action in U.S. history.
* PG&E is part of a national coalition to permanently privatize a 1920 agreement that would allow municipally owned utilities to bid on over 400 dams nationwide when their 50 operating license came up. The successful campaign ended up giving PG&E and SoCalEd over 60 dams here in California.
* Ronald Reagan secretly orders the EPA to give the financial strapped utility $2.7 billion to help PG&E finish Diablo Canyon.
* The Diablo Canyon operation was allowed to go ahead by Judge Robert Bork. He was famous for being the Nixon’s Saturday night massacre lawyer that fired the Watergate prosecutor.
* Literally every environmental law on the book was waived to allow PG&E to obtain its 2 billion gallon dumping permit into the ocean. The state’s regional quality control board refused to allow them to dump water, but was overturned by the state.
* The reactors were built near the Hosgri fault-line that destroyed Santa Barbara in a 1927 earthquake.
* The first time the reactors were turned on, 14,000 Abalone in Diablo Bay were killed. The cove was also home to a sacred Chumash burial area and was the home of the worlds largest oak trees.
* In the late 1990’s it was disclosed that PG&E had covered up the extent of damages to the coast and Abalone, and was given a $14 million fine. The fine was later reversed.
* The company spent $110 million in legal fees to win the Diablo Canyon rate case. The state, which had promised that it would force the utility to eat at least $2 billion of the construction costs settled a deal that gave away the whole house, setting up a $54 billion 30 contract for PG&E.
* The 1989 rate settlement led to the steepest rate increases in the country, driving electric costs from 8 cents a KWH to over 14 cents by 1994.
* This huge increase led to the revolt of big electric users, that in turn caused the disasterous Wilson deregulation plan.
* PG&E was a coalition partner in destroying the grassroots based alternative energy movement in the state that was culminated in their FERC appeal that killed PURPA contracts in the state in 1994.
* PG&E took the national lead in the mid 80’s, with their U.S. Supreme Court case that killed Citizen Utility Board’s across the country. The Nader inspired CUB’s had successfully gained access to PG&E’s electric bill here when the CPUC allowed TURN to do inserts.
* PG&E’s was part of a coalition of California corporations that sponsored the Pacific Legal Foundation and its SLAP suit against the Abalone Alliance that put it out of existence.
* PG&E was part of the inside coalition of organizers, with the help of Palo Based EPRI, in the national agenda to deregulate the electric industry.
* The San Diego team of Steve Peace and Governor Wilson led the team plan to give the state’s utilities the disastrous deregulation mess. It included a $28 billion bonus to cover all the construction costs of Diablo Canyon and SoCal Eds’ SONGS reactors.
* Check out the Julia Roberts movie for more scandals that contaminated over 1,000 workers with Chromium contamination
* Oh, yes and its spent large amounts of money many many times to defeat public power initiatives in San Francisco and elsewhere.
* Since 2000, PG&E Corp., the parent company of PG&E Co., has spent more than $112 million on federally reportable lobbying efforts, according to the Center’s analysis. Its roster of lobbyists includes an elite force of ex-government officials, and at least one of the lobbyists the company has deployed this year is a former member of Congress, Rep. Vic Fazio (D-Ca.).
And the explosion in San Bruno comes at a time when PG&E Corp. is reaching new heights in lobbying efforts.
During the first six months of the year, PG&E put unprecedented capital into lobbying efforts, reporting to the federal government that it’s so far spent nearly$44 million. Such a figure represents a more than 600 percent increase from the total it spent during all of 2009, and marks an industry-wide record for electric and utilities companies.
* Outrage as PG&E Plans to Spray Clouds With Toxic Chemical to Increase Rainfall
AlterNet June 8th, 2010 – “After a successful six-year campaign to prevent Nestle Waters from building a bottling plant in nearby McCloud, the town of Mt. Shasta, a mountain hamlet of fewer than 3000 residents in California’s far-northern Siskiyou County, is taking up a new struggle: to prevent PG&E from seeding the region’s clouds. The practice of ‘cloud seeding’ is a kind of weather modification in which silver iodide, a Class-C toxin, is disbursed aerially or from ground-based towers in an effort to induce rain. … [U]nlike other large-scale resource management practices with potential environmental impacts, cloud seeding is completely unregulated in California….provided it is done by corporations…”
* NTSB Blames PG&E ‘Litany Of Failures’ In San Bruno Explosion – CBS August 30, 2011 ‘The head of a federal safety panel is faulting Pacific Gas & Electric company for a “litany of failures” leading up to last year’s pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people and incinerated a suburban neighborhood.
Deborah Hersman, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said Tuesday PG&E also exploited weak safety oversight by state regulators who placed “a blind trust” in the utility.
The findings in the draft final report, which were publicly discussed for the first time Tuesday by the five-member board, indicate that flawed pipe, operations and oversight led to the disaster.
“It was not a question of if this pipeline would burst, but when,” Hersman said.’
* Federal investigators are looking into the explosion of a leaky Pacific Gas and Electric Co. gas line that devastated a Cupertino condominium, officials said Thursday. It took PG&E crews about an hour and a half to cut the flow of gas after the explosion and fire ripped through the condo. at 12:30 p.m. When crews examined the 2-inch plastic distribution pipe feeding smaller lines running into and around the …, they found a total of seven leaks, PG&E said. The explosion came just one day after PG&E was harshly criticized by the National Transportation Safety Board for its handling of gas safety in light of the San Bruno blast last year that claimed eight lives, and a 2008 explosion outside a home in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento County) that killed its 72-year-old owner. In both disasters, regulators took issue with the length of time it took PG&E to shut off the gas. The CPUC said it is investigating the Cupertino explosion.

Editor’s Note:
There you have it, folks. So far, so bad. This is the corporation that claims the right to place toxic technology on our homes and in our communities without our consent, sell our private information for profit and endanger national security with a hackable wireless energy grid that James Woolsey, a former head of the CIA, calls “really stupid.”
To help keep EON’s work going, please check out all the support options on our Donation Page or you can also send a check made out to EON to EON, POB 1047, Bolinas, CA