Email alleges California regulator offered to write PG&E favorable opinion

Government And Institutions Associated Press

In a newly released email, a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. executive says a state official offered to write the utility a favorable opinion for a proposed gas rate hike.

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PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry says in the Jan. 14 email that California Public Utilities Commission member Mike Florio said he would write the opinion if PG&E did not like one written by another member of the commission, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/13uGIsY).

PG&E disclosed the email Friday. It is the latest in a series of emails released by the utility and others, many of them also from January, that allegedly show PG&E executives privately negotiating with state utilities commission officials.

Florio said he recalls the conversation with Cherry differently.

"Mr. Cherry's internal summary of his conversation with me does not accurately reflect my own recollection of that same conversation," he wrote.

PG&E said in a statement it has reported violations, held senior-level officers accountable and made significant changes "to prevent this from happening again."

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"In addition to responding to the CPUC, we're also continuing to cooperate fully with law enforcement investigations and have provided them with all emails and information they have requested," PG&E spokesman Keith Stephens said.

Previous emails released by PG&E show company executives sought — and obtained — the administrative law judge they wanted in the gas rate hike case. The president of the state utilities commission, Michael Peevey, and Florio also were included in those email negotiations.

Peevey has announced he will not seek reappointment when his term ends at the end of the year. Florio has recused himself from the rate case.

State regulators last month fined PG&E and required its shareholders to cover as much as $400 million of the planned gas rate increase because of the backroom negotiations between the utility and regulators over the administrative law judge.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com