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Dec 21, 2012 2:50 AM by Associated Press

PG&E customers to foot part of pipe safety costs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Consumer advocates and survivors of the 2010 gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno are criticizing California regulators' decision to approve a two-year Pacific Gas and Electric Co. rate increase of $299 million.

The increase, well below the nearly $769 million PG&E had sought, will help pay for pipeline inspection and upgrade costs in the aftermath of the blast that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes.

Utility spokeswoman Brittany Chord says residential customers will see their monthly bills go up by an average of 88 cents next year and $1.36 in 2014.

The nonprofit Utility Reform Network legal director Tom Long said the commission's move means that ratepayers ultimately will be footing 55 percent of the safety upgrades' long-term costs.

California State Sen. Jerry Hill described the commission's decisions on how to apportion the expense of operating gas pipelines safely as a "Christmas gift" for PG&E.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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