SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) --PG&E entered a not guilty plea in federal court Monday as the US attorney's office announces it hopes to punish the utility company even more than first expected in connection with the deadly San Bruno pipeline explosion.
First it looked like PG&E could be fined up to $6 million if the company was found guilty of these crimes, but now it looks like it could be much more.
The indictment accuses PG&E of neglecting to inspect the pipeline that exploded in San Bruno in 2010, which would be a violation of the Federal Pipeline Safety Act.
The prosecutor announced Monday morning there is a US code that allows the prosecution to seek as much as two times the amount of profit the company earned or saved as a result of the misconduct and the US attorney's office plans to go after that amount. They did not say how much that would be. San Bruno city officials say it would take an accountant to come up with that figure, but they say they are thrilled to hear the news.
"We look forward to PG&E being fined at the maximum amount allowed by law as a message not only to that corporation, but to the industry that neglect mismanagement in failure to meet the trusting confidence of the citizens they serve will not be tolerated," San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson said.
PG&E released a video statement before the proceeding, saying that no employee intentionally caused the accident and called it a tragic accident. No one from PG&E was in court to respond to the proceedings, but PG&E attorneys entered not guilty pleas.
The San Bruno explosion killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. The city of San Bruno says if PG&E is fined by the courts, it hopes that the money will go towards making the system a safer one.