Even in brief, the story is appalling. PG&E was subject to a couple of independent audits out in California because elements of the state regulatory apparatus out there suspected that the company was largely run by avaricious weasels. The audits proved that this initial speculative evaluation was dreadfully unfair to weasels. It turns out that executives of PG&E "diverted" (nice word, that) $100 million earmarked for gas safety and for operational expenses. This money, it should be noted, was squeezed out of PG&E's customers, and at a time when PG&E was soaking its customers for $430 million more than it was authorized to collect, according the the state's utility regulators. And to where exactly, you may wonder, pray tell, was all this extra money diverted? Take it away, San Francisco Chronicle:
"...the company spent $56 million annually on an incentive plan for executives and 'non-employee directors,' including stock awards, performance shares and deferred compensation. 'A cursory review reveals that a significant portion, in the millions, has been awarded to the CEO,' the commission staff report said in a reference to former PG&E head Peter Darbee, who retired last year."
Of course, it did.
And all that happened was that, in 2010, a PG&E pipeline in San Bruno blew up, killing eight people and demolishing 38 homes.
Of course, it did.
And why did the pipeline explode?
"An independent audit and a staff report issued by the California Public Utilities Commission depicted a poorly led company well-heeled in its gas operations and more concerned with profit than safety. The documents link a deficient PG&E safety culture — with its 'focus on financial performance.'"
Of course, it was.
This goes directly to my previous post. If the only punishment these clowns can expect is a relative slap on the wrist, they will continue their behavior, no matter how many innocent people die, no matter how many hard-working Americans lives are ruined.