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Judge's ruling raises PG&E's proposed penalty for falsifying gas safety records

An administrative law judge raised to $110 million a settlement that PG&E Corp. needs to pay for falsifying records and failing to execute properly a safety program for its underground gas and electric facilities.

Under the ruling, $66 million of the revised penalty would be used for PG&E's shareholder-paid initiatives, including system enhancements and supervision of the implementation of its safety program, according to a Jan. 17 news release. California's general fund would get $44 million, instead of the previous $5 million payment.

In addition, if PG&E has not spent $66 million on safety initiatives within four years, the gas utility will pay the remaining amount to the state's general fund, according to the ruling.

PG&E had previously agreed to a $65 million payment to settle a California Public Utilities Commission investigation, which alleged the gas utility falsified tens of thousands of gas safety records over a five-year period following the deadly San Bruno gas pipeline explosion in 2010.

The judge's ruling will become the commission's decision if all the parties of the settlement agree to the increased penalty within 20 days and in the absence of a request for review from a commissioner, according to the release.