The California Public Utilities Commission has issued a $106 million penalty for Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for violating safety guidelines during three power shutoffs held in the fall of 2019.
The net penalty is $20 million, as the utility giant issued credits to customers' bills -- by order of the governor -- that totaled $86 million, according to an announcement about the ruling the commission released last week.
The $20 million penalty ordered in this decision will be paid by shareholders in the form of customer bill credits and a contribution to a backup portable battery program.
Chief among the violations was the utility's website being unavailable or non-functioning during most of the duration of the power shutoff.
In addition, the decision noted several other failures: the inaccuracy of PG&E's online outage maps, the inaccessibility of secure data transfer portals to PG&E's public safety partners, and PG&E's failure to provide advanced notification of power shutoff events to approximately 50,000 The decision directs the utility to make the following payments:
- $12.185 million to be spread across the bills of the general group of customers in the areas affected;
- $6.4 million to Medical Baseline customers in the areas affected; and
- $1.418 million to PG&E's Disability Disaster Access & Resources Program, which provides qualifying customers access to backup portable batteries through a grant, lease-to-own or low-interest loan options.