California's Public Utilities Commission approved, in a unanimous vote, fines that total $20 million for safety violations and natural gas leaks in California.
CPUC Administrative Law Judge Burton Mattson was quoted by the San Francisco Chronicle as saying PG&E's "offenses were severe" and the "potential public harm from these violations was great."
The company is obligated to survey natural gas pipelines for leaks every five years, though some were ignored since 1993. Nevertheless, PG&E Executive Vice President Nick Stavropoulos was quoted as saying the penalty was "excessive because we did the right thing -- by promptly self-reporting the violation."
The company may face an additional $200 million penalty for a pipeline explosion that destroyed 38 homes and left eight people dead in 2010.
A report from California regulators found that PG&E's record-keeping on its natural gas transmission lines was substandard.
"Any quality-control procedures PG&E may have had in place clearly failed," said Mattson.
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