SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Top California regulators communicated often and enthusiastically with executives at Pacific Gas & Electric Co., even offering unsolicited advice on handling the media while they presided over a case to decide how much the utility should pay for a deadly explosion in a San Francisco Bay Area suburb, according to a trove of emails released Monday.
The 7,000 pages of emails between leaders at PG&E and California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey and his staff were released as the result of a lawsuit filed by the city of San Bruno.
The commission is responsible for punishing PG&E in the wake of the 2010 pipeline blast that claimed eight lives, injured dozens of people and laid waste to a suburban neighborhood — a disaster federal investigators said could have been averted.
In an April message from Peevey to Brian Cherry, PG&E's vice president of regulatory relations, Peevey offered the executive advice about improving public relations surrounding the federal criminal indictment of the utility.
"PG&E's decision to issue a press release last week anticipating all this only meant that the public got to read two big stories rather than one. I think this was inept," Peevey wrote.
San Bruno officials called Monday for Peevey to step down from the commission and sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown asking for Peevey to be fired.
"There is a very cozy relationship between the PUC and PG&E, and the results of that cozy relationship killed eight people," San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said at a news conference on the commission's steps. The emails show "it was illegal, improper and has to change."
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