A federal jury found Pacific Gas & Electric Co. guilty of violations of pipeline safety regulations that led to the 2010 explosion of a natural gas pipeline in San Bruno which caused eight deaths and destroyed 38 homes.
California’s largest utility faces potential fines of $3 million. While the jury was deliberating, prosecutors decided not to pursue potential fines of up to $562 million. PG&E was previously fined a record $1.6 billion by the state’s Public Utilities Commission.
The utility, which had pleaded not guilty to the charges, said errors in classifying some pipelines and evaluating of their safety risk, and poor record-keeping, were unintentional errors.
PG&E said its employees struggled to comply with regulations that were ambiguous and difficult to understand.
“No one at PG&E is a criminal,” PG&E attorney Steven Bauer told the jury. He argued that the federal prosecutors had conducted an “elaborate second-guessing exercise.”
“While we are very much focused on the future, we will never forget the lessons of the past,” the company said in a statement, adding that it is committed to re-earning the trust of its customers.