The city of Carmel reached an out-of-court settlement with PG&E for more than $1.6 million, three years after a gas explosion leveled a home in the city, the City Council announced at its June 6 meeting.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about the health and safety of our community,” Mayor Steve Dallas said in his remarks before the council voted to accept the terms of the settlement.
The city sued PG&E to recoup costs it incurred responding to the blast on the morning of March 3, 2014, on the southwest corner of Guadalupe Street and Third Avenue. No one was home at the time, and there were no injuries.
PG&E crews were working on a main gas line adjacent to the home tapping into the line thinking it was steel, based on company records.
It contained a plastic insert, however, and gas leaked between the insert and the steel pipe and into the home.
As a result of the incident, the California Public Utilities Commission levied a $37.5 million fine against the company for failure to maintain accurate records of is natural gas distribution system and for its emergency response practices following the gas leak and explosion, according to a statement released by the city on June 7.
The settlement between Carmel and PG&E includes a requirement that the company conduct regular system-wide inspections and preventive maintenance of natural gas distribution lines. PG&E must also provide transmission and distribution line maps to the city.
PG&E also agreed to carry crimping devices on its trucks that can seal gas leaks—at the time of the explosion, the trucks were not carrying those devices.
In addition, PG&E agreed to donate $25,000 to the Friends of Carmel Forest for a planting campaign. The company will work with the nonprofit to plant and maintain 100 trees within the next year.
The company also agreed to defend Carmel against any third-party claims that arise from the incident, as well as pay any of the city’s attorneys’ fees.
On Tuesday Dallas said the city is working with PG&E to promote the 811 program, requiring contractors and homeowners to call 811 before digging anywhere in the city.
"Even a fence post," he said.
He said those who do not call the program to determine where gas lines are will face penalties.
PG&E issued a statement after Carmel's announcement.
"Safety is our top priority and we’ll continue working alongside first responders and the city to keep our customers – all of the families and businesses we serve in Carmel – safe."
Editor's note: The post was updated to include information provided by PG&E.