Pacific Gas and Electric

Since 1905, the Pacific Gas and Electric has been providing electricity and natural gas to businesses and individuals on the west coast of the United States. Headquartered in San Francisco, the company operates numerous power generating stations and employs approximately 20,000 workers.

More than two dozen smaller water utilities and electric companies merged to form Pacific Gas & Electric. An enormous facility was built at the Potrero Gas Works location and supplied most of the petroleum-derived gas for the San Francisco area. In 1930, the longest pipeline in the world connected the Texas oil fields with the California coast, and Pacific Gas & Electric also was developing hydropower along the Yuba River. Soon after World War II, the company built a total of 14 new hydroelectric plants and five steam-driven turbine plants.

Today Pacific Gas & Electric operates the largest hydroelectric power network of any privately owned firm in the United States. The total output of electricity from this source is over 3.8 gigawatts annually. The company also owns and operates the Diablo Canyon Power Plant in San Luis Obispo County, its only nuclear powered facility. This generating station delivers in excess of 2.2 gigawatts of electricity to customers in south-central California. The company has also entered into agreement to develop and operate solar power generators in California.

There is over 141,000 miles of transmission lines carrying electrical current produced by PG & E power stations. Over 42,000 miles of natural gas distribution pipe is currently in use, and the company has over 9 million customer accounts. The company grossed in excess of $14.6 billion in 2008, and showed a net income of $1.34 billion. However, PG&E filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2001, emerging three years later after having paid its creditors approximately $10 billion.

The company used asbestos in the construction and operation of its many power generating stations, and has been involved in a number of civil actions with regards to this substance. Asbestos was commonly installed as part of tiles, wall panels, pipe coverings and protective clothing for those who worked in high-heat environments. Asbestos is a natural insulator and fire retardant, but in older facilities the fibers of this silicate compound often became loose and were inhaled by employees. Asbestos can remain in a person’s lungs and years, or even decades later, symptoms of cancerous conditions like mesothelioma may appear.

Asbestos is now recognized as an extremely dangerous material and is being removed from facilities worldwide. However, past employees at Pacific Gas & Electric were often exposed to asbestos prior to the 1990s, making it important former employees realize the dangers this exposure put them in and what steps they can take to ensure they are free of symptoms of any asbestos-related diseases.


Pacific Gas and Electric Company