PG&E is dismissing a suggestion from a consultant for state regulators that the company could afford to pay $2.5 billion in fines for the San Bruno gas pipeline disaster.
At a news briefing Thursday, PG&E chief Anthony Earley mocked the report's premise that his utility could raise the money from investors. "As an investor," Early asked, "would you give me money that I was going to turn around and have to give away with no possibility of getting a return on, or even getting money back? You can't raise that money."
PG&E has set aside $200 million to cover fines related to the pipeline blast and fire that killed eight people. Investigators have blamed the disaster on PG&E's poor construction and monitoring of the pipeline that ruptured. The state Public Utilities Commission will open hearings next month to weigh penalties against the company.
Earley said Thursday that civil settlements and potential fines stemming from a fatal gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno two years ago could cost the company more than $1 billion.
Earley -- who became CEO of PG&E in 2011 -- said that the Sept. 9, 2010 pipeline explosion in San Bruno's Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood was a catalyst for the utility to reevaluate its operations "from top to bottom."
The explosion and subsequent fire killed eight people, injured dozens and destroyed a neighborhood.
Earley said that PG&E has successfully settled with seven of the eight victims' families, and that additional settlements with victims who were injured in the d seven of the eight victims' families, and that additional settlements with victims who were injured in the disaster could be expected by the end of the year.
"I feel good that we are starting to give those families aisaster could be expected by the end of the year.
"I feel good that we are starting to give those families a sense of closure," Earley said.
PG&E has set aside between $400 and $500 million to pay to victims of t sense of closure," Earley said.
PG&E has set aside between $400 and $500 million to pay to victims of the San Bruno explosion, in addition to the approxiamtely $200 million to settle possible fines and related penalties that could be levied by the California Public Utilities Commission, Early said.
PG&E has already agreed to pay the city of San Bruno $70 million to help rebuild and heal the community, and invested millions to replace the streets and infrastructure that were destroyed.
The total amount paid by PG&E to the victims, their families and the city could exceed $1 billion, Earley said.
"We know it's going to take years and years in terms of the recovery process," he said.