SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - The California Public Utilities Commission who has been accused of being too cozy with PG&E, looks to be further hampered by a lack of people to inspect PG&E's power lines.
With more than a thousand employees, the California Public Utilities Commission regulates electric, natural gas, water, telecommunications, rail and transportation companies within the state. The Electricity Safety and Reliability Branch has just 34 people to oversee the entire electricity infrastructure and all land telecommunications infrastructure. 19 of those positions appear to be for full time inspectors.
"It's hard to imagine how 19 inspectors can protect the millions of consumers in California," said consumer advocate Mindy Spatt of TURN, The Utility Reform Network.
"They do need a closer look at the number of positions they have and those positions should be filled and should be operational and they should be in the field making sure that our utilities are safe and that they're operating safely," said state Senator Jerry Hill/(D) San Mateo.
Though Senator Hill is quick to say that Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric are consistently better corporate citizens, he said PG&E often breaks the rules.
"Unfortunately, PG&E has consistently felt that getting caught is a lot cheaper and of less consequence and that's what they have historically done," said Senator Hill.
"We see no reason at all to trust PG&E. PG&E has lied to this Commission and manipulates it. So why would you trust PG&E?" said TURN's Mindy Spatt.
PG&E insists that safety is its highest priority.