PG&E will pay San Bruno $70 million to help the city recover from the 2010 gas pipeline explosion that wiped out a neighborhood and killed eight people, the city and the utility announced Monday.
“As a community, we worked hard to get this restitution to do something important for San Bruno,” Mayor Jim Ruane said at a news conference. “Still, we know that nothing, no amount of money, no amount of apologies, will ever bring back the citizens we lost, the homes that were destroyed, the family heirlooms that were burned, the community that existed before Sept. 9, 2010.”
San Bruno and the utility had been negotiating in secret since last year, but talks stalled in Feburary, and Ruane complained publicly to pressure PG&E back to the table.
In a statement, PG&E President Christopher Johns called the explosion “a terrible tragedy.”
“We committed on that day that we would work with the city and the victims to do whatever we could to help them in the rebuilding and in the healing process,” Johns said. PG&E’s shareholders will pay for the settlement, he added.
The agreement requires the utility to pay the city within 30 days. San Bruno will set up a non-profit to manage and distribute the fund, with heavy input from the community.
City manager Connie Jackson said it was too early to say how San Bruno would use the money, but that it could go toward “major capital facilities” such as a library or recreation center.
“We don’t have anything pre-determined,” she said. “The idea is to get a sense of the community as a whole.”
In February, the city filed papers to participate in an investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission. Jackson said the city would remain a party to the inquiry, which may entitle San Bruno to part of any potential settlement.
“We have multiple interests in that investigation,” she said. “It’s in the city’s interest to be at the table.”
PG&E’s attempts to make amends
$70 million settlement
$50 million trust established to rebuild infrastructure
$100 million fund for expenses in the wake of the disaster ($45 million spent so far)
$1 million donation to the Red Cross
$500,000 in prepaid debit cards for displaced residents
1,200 hours employees spent volunteering in San Bruno
Sources: PG&E, San Bruno