Incident Investigations for Electric Generation

The Electric Generation Safety and Reliability Section (EGSRS) investigates safety incidents and significant outages to determine whether a generator violated General Order 167 or other applicable standards. EGSRS investigates incidents that result in a serious injury or fatality, media coverage, and/or an unusual or prolonged outage. 

A typical investigation may involve any or all of the following:

  • Data request, which may also require the generator to submit a root cause analysis.
  • Records review, which may include design drawings or schematics, maintenance records, diagrams, procedures and more.
  • Field work for first-hand observation of the incident, which typically includes an equipment inspection, interviews with plant staff and/or witnesses, obtaining measurements, examining normal operating and/or maintenance procedures for equipment or work activities, and verifying the sequence of events leading up to the incident.
  • Coordination with other regulatory agency(ies) during the investigation.

If EGSRS determines that the generator violated GO 167 or other standards, he/she will notify the plant in writing, and ensure that the plant takes adequate corrective action. EGSRS verifies corrective actions through various means, such as to:

  • Examine the plant’s corrective action plan (CAP).
  • Monitor and track corrective actions through to completion.
  • Verify implementation of programs or procedures.


EGSRS Investigations  

These are some of the special investigations that the EGSRS staff has conducted:

Kern Power Plant Implosion – On August 3, 2013, at least five spectators were injured, one critically, when Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) detonated explosives to topple boilers at its retired Kern Power Plant, located in Bakersfield, California.  As the explosives went off and the boilers toppled, shrapnel ejected and sprayed a parking lot more than a quarter mile away, resulting in bodily injury and property damage.  CPUC investigated the incident and traced the root cause to PG&E’s inadequate contractor safety management systems.  [Download the Investigation Report]. 

Kern Power Plant – On June 19, 2012, a contract worker was fatally injured while dismantling an unused fuel oil tank at the Kern Power Plant, located in Bakersfield, California. The plant is owned by the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). The CPUC conducted an investigation and found several contributing factors to the incident that were due to PG&E’s failure in maintaining a safe system at the plant. [Download the Kern Investigation Report]  

San Diego Blackout - On September 8, 2011, during a period of peak electrical demand, a series of events overloaded circuits, which led to a loss of electrical power for approximately five million people in San Diego county, the Imperial Valley, and parts of Mexico and Arizona. The CPUC investigated the incident and issued several recommendations to the balancing authorities in the area. [Download the San Diego Blackout Report] 

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