State regulators Thursday upheld a $16.8 million fine against PG&E for failing to inspect East Bay pipelines for gas leaks.

The fine, which PG&E had appealed to the Public Utilities Commission, represents the first time that the commission’s Consumer Protection and Safety Division levied penalties against the utility under new authorities awarded last December. The division was given more teeth in response to federal criticism of the commission’s safety policies in the wake of the deadly San Bruno pipeline blast. Previously, the safety division had to seek approval from the full commission to impose penalties.

PG&E agreed to pay a separate $3 million fine for problems with its record-keeping, but the utility fought the $16.8 million penalty that was imposed after it disclosed that it had failed for more than a decade to check for leaks on pipelines in seven Contra Costa cities.

Read more: Mercury News, April 20, 2012

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