Utility head grilled over fatal Calif. explosion

SAN BRUNO, Calif. (AP) — State lawmakers met Tuesday in the San Francisco suburb where eight people were killed in a natural gas explosion and accused the head of the California Public Utilities Commission of years of lax oversight.

Assemblyman Jerry Hill represents the city of San Bruno and organized the town hall meeting so his colleagues and residents could get an update on what pipeline operator Pacific Gas & Electric and state regulators were doing to prevent a repeat of the Sept. 9 disaster.

Commission executive director Paul Clanon tried to defuse one of the fiercest criticisms that emerged since the explosion — that PG&E characterized the pipe as “high-risk” in 2007, got permission to bill ratepayers to upgrade it and then dropped the planned improvements the next year.

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