PSE Fined $1.25 Million for Falsifying Gas Pipeline Safety Inspection Reports For 4 Years Running

The subtitle for this web site may have to be reworded to: The Many Things PSE Won’t Tell You. This shocking story about PSE falsifying safety records has to be right up there among the Top Ten. The quotes below are from the Washington Utilities and Transportation web site, 2008, a story that PSE has somehow managed to keep quiet since then: http://www.wutc.wa.gov/webimage.nsf/0/7BF2E405148BE6E288257420007F48A0:

“OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators today fined Puget Sound Energy (PSE) $1.25 million for fraudulent natural gas pipeline inspection records spanning a four-year period. The fine is the largest penalty ever imposed by the state on a natural-gas distribution company…’Accurate record-keeping is a critical component of pipeline safety and vital to the commission’s ability to perform safety inspections,’ said Mark Sidran, chairman of the three-member UTC. ‘Falsifying safety records is a particularly serious violation, warranting a serious penalty.’”

Just add this to the collection of facts and issues PSE hides, distorts or lies about. People should have gone to jail over this! This kind of criminal activity should have resulted at a minimum in the revocation of PSE’s franchise in this state! A $1.25 million fine is chump change to PSE, they pay nearly double that annually in political “campaign contributions” in carefully equal amounts to Democrats and Republicans. Can our politicians be so blind or corrupt that when something this outrageous happens they just look the other way?

If PSE is willing to falsify natural gas pipeline safety inspection records for four years (saving money by avoiding replacing antiquated equipment?), thus putting thousands of lives at risk — can anyone believe there is anything PSE won’t falsify and lie about? The CAG groups have been told one lie after another, and specific examples are being collected to prove PSE cannot be trusted. But PSE has already given us plenty of evidence back in 2008 that nothing they say or do can be trusted.

PSE’s psychopathic behavior continues today. In Montana, PSE burns coal that among other things emits mercury into the atmosphere, killing animals, and PSE is violating all kinds of state and federal environmental and clean air laws where PSE faces substantial fines. According to http://daily.sightline.org/2012/04/19/pse-should-do-the-math-and-show-its-work/, the liabilities PSE faces for failing to use modern coal-burning technologies and other government agency-ordered upgrades could wind up in the hundreds of millions of dollars that we, the ratepayers, will be stuck paying if we let them. From the article:

“The Colstrip Generating Station in eastern Montana is facing an overhang of liabilities so severe that PSE’s Washington ratepayers are at risk of exposure to tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars in upgrades.

“Coal plants like Colstrip are facing potentially costly liabilities that stem from EPA regulations to protect public health: Regional Haze rules to protect air quality in scenic areas; National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) rules that may apply to several types of dangerous pollution from Colstrip; compliance with new rules governing mercury and air toxics; and coal ash treatment. In addition, there are at least two additional liabilities the utility should account for publicly: increasingly expensive coal extraction from the nearby mine and carbon pricing.

“When faced with these costs, the utility will inevitably attempt to pass on the costs of these upgrades to its customers in the form of higher rates. But do state ratepayers really want their next energy dollars spent on retrofitting a coal plant?

Is this Australian-owned company that can sit back half-way around the world and trash our communities and laws with relative impunity operating in OUR public interest? The WUTC and/or the Washington State Attorney General should throw these bums out!

PSE’s 10-year franchise with the City of Newcastle expires in August of this year. We hope when PSE applies with the City of Newcastle to renew that franchise (which may have already happened?) the people of Newcastle will be informed of that application so they can oppose it in a public hearing. Seattle City Light, a public utility that serves part of Renton, is a local entity that lives in our area and lives, like us, with the consequences of its decisions, and whose rates are lower than PSE’s. SCL is a good candidate to replace PSE. Thought should also be given now to forming a Public Utility District in conjunction with other Eastside cities. PSE spent millions of dollars not that long ago to defeat an effort to establish a Thurston County PUD, but on the Eastside we would have bigger, energized and funded groups to achieve a better result.

If you live in one of the cities affected by PSE’s proposed Eastside project, check out when your city’s franchise with PSE is up for renewal, and start talking with your friends and neighbors about replacing PSE with a responsible power utility or by creating a Public Utility District. If Snohomish County could do that, so can we!

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