The California Public Utilities Commission announced the plan Thursday, following the recommendations of a high-level, independent panel that urged reforms in the wake of last September's explosion of a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. transmission line. Eight people died, dozens were injured and 38 homes were destroyed.
The panel didn't explore the accident's root cause but suggested that major reorganizations were necessary at the commission, which panelists deemed was understaffed and underspecialized.
The five new hires will bring the state's pipeline inspection team to 18. Commissioners also will create a new risk assessment unit to research, develop and propose tools to improve pipeline safety.