• PUC: PG&E Can Resume Carmel Gas Operations – City officials remain wary

    Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has been given approval by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to resume all operations in Carmel-by-the-Sea more than seven-and-a-half months after an explosion in the village destroyed an unoccupied home on the southwest corner of Guadalupe Street and 3rd Avenue.

    Since the March 3 explosion, PG&E, at the request of Mayor Jason Burnett, had been restricted to doing emergency work only in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

    Although PG&E work will resume, city officials are still concerned.

    “We continue to remain very much focused that the CPUC conduct a complete and independent investigation into PG&E’s wrongdoing,” Mayor Burnett said.  “The resumption of work definitely does not mean this situation is resolved.  The type of behavior by PG&E that caused the explosion must never be repeated.”

    The Carmel City Council made a formal request earlier this year to the CPUC for an investigation.  At that time, the City Council also said that it appeared that PG&E violated CPUC code regarding safe distribution of natural gas.

    “The community has been greatly inconvenienced since March by PG&E’s inability to safely perform its operations and do basic work,” Mayor Burnett said. “Although we do appreciate that our community will now be served by PG&E, we will remain vigilant in monitoring its operations given PG&E’s demonstrated failures.”

    Doug Schmitz, the new Carmel city administrator, struck a similar cautionary note.

    “We are pleased that after almost eight months, the California Public Utilities Commission has approved that PG&E may proceed with its work in Carmel-by-the-Sea,” Schmitz said.  “The City staff will be monitoring the utility’s work closely and will be receiving weekly updates on the work under way.”

    In a letter to PG&E earlier this month, the CPUC spelled out several “enhanced safety measures and work procedures” that the utility had agreed to conduct to resume work within Carmel-by-the-Sea.

    The U.S. Attorney’s office is also investigating PG&E in connection with the March 3 explosion.

    No one was injured in the blast.  Damage to nearby properties included broken windows.

    “It was a miracle that nobody was hurt, but this is a very serious incident,” Mayor Burnett said at the time.

    In the weeks following the explosion PG&E sent representatives to several City Council sessions to answer questions from councilmembers and the public.

    PG&E crews were working on a main gas line immediately adjacent to the single-family home at the time of the March 3 explosion.

    The cause was attributed to a leak after PG&E workers tapped into a gas main under the impression that it was just steel.  In fact, it contained a plastic insert.  as that leaked into the space between the steel shell and the plastic lining followed the gas main into the wood residence, precipitating the explosion.

    In an unrelated incident that occurred on Sept. 5 of this year, a break in a natural gas line on Camino Real between 11th and 12th avenues in Carmel-by-the-Sea necessitated the precautionary evacuation of a two-block area.   However, that break was caused by a third party and not PG&E.  There was no explosion.

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    posted to Cedar Street Times on October 23, 2014

    Topics: Front PG News

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