California regulators auditing Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s work in the field cited the company for late repairs and maintenance jobs far more frequently than any other electric utility in the state, according to documents made public in the wake of this month’s deadly Wine Country fires.
But the utility, whose upkeep of its power lines and other equipment has come under intense scrutiny since the fires began, says the high numbers of late repairs reflect its effort to tackle a backlog of maintenance work — not an ongoing safety problem.
In a series of audits conducted from 2013 through this year, safety experts with the California Public Utilities Commission examined PG&E’s maintenance of its electricity distribution network — its power poles, overhead lines and underground vaults — in nine administrative districts covering the Bay Area.
The commission, whose auditing division is currently severely understaffed, counted more than 1,000 late repair or maintenance jobs in six of PG&E’s nine Bay Area districts. No other California utility, or utility division, was found to have more than 1,000 late corrective actions in audits the commission performed from 2013 through this year.