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PG&E is facing a fine of nearly $17 million for irregularities in the utility’s gas pipeline safety testing in Contra Costa County, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) said.

In January, the California Public Utilities Commission issued a $16.76 million citation for the utility’s failure to conduct gas safety tests on more than 13 miles of gas distribution pipelines in several cities in Contra Costa County, including Danville, Antioch, Pittsburg and Concord.

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Some stretches of pipeline had not undergone tests for leaks since 1993, a violation of federal and state pipeline safety regulations, according to CPUC.

PG&E, which serves Pinole residents, appealed the citation in February. The appeal ended up denied by a CPUC administrative law judge, and CPUC re-ordered the utility to pay the citation Thursday.

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PG&E self-reported the missed leak surveys, and the utility does not disagree with the safety violations, just the “excessive” amount of money it has to pay, said PG&E Executive Vice President for Gas Operations Nick Stavropoulos.

“PG&E understands that when we make a mistake, we own up,” Stavropoulos said. “As we stated in our appeal, we believe the penalty amount is excessive because we did the right thing by promptly self-reporting the violation.”

Stavropoulos went on to say that PG&E has “dramatically stepped up” its efforts to make sure that its operations and equipment are tested and safe, in the Bay Area and throughout PG&E’s service area.

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