San Bruno city officials accused PG&E Wednesday of walking out of negotiations over compensation for the 2010 gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed a neighborhood in the Peninsula city.
“You can call it an impasse, you can call it what you want,” San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said at a news conference Wednesday morning.
Ruane said the city would pursue a parallel path to restitution. This week, San Bruno filed legal papers to participate in an existing investigation by the California Public Utilities Commission. That would make the city a party to any potential settlement between the utility and the commission.
Yet PG&E officials denied that talks had broken down and said they had set up a meeting with San Bruno for Friday. A San Bruno spokesman said the appointment was made on Wednesday.
“One of the things that I know we can both agree on is we both have a very strong, passionate desire to resolve this thing for the city quickly,” PG&E Senior Vice President Greg Pruett said.
He said the utility has already established a $70 million trust to rebuild San Bruno and a $100 million fund for expenses in the wake of the disaster. He said PG&E was open to offering additional compensation.
In November, according to correspondence provided to the media, San Bruno and the utility agreed to hold confidential negotiations about a settlement that would go beyond the $170 million the utility has so far pledged. The proposed settlement would not pay for expenses directly associated with the disaster.
In an August letter, PG&E President Christopher Johns suggested that the utility could pay for scholarships or sports leagues for neighborhood children, mental health resources, contributions to local non-profits, or support of a library, memorial or park.
Ruane said such additional compensation would go toward healing the city’s spirit.
“The way I look at it is, we are in fact a victim, in a different way,” he said. “We were victimized as a community.”