Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said it has fired or suspended nearly 20 workers after discovering legally required inspections may not have been performed.
The situation prompted PG&E to check more than 1,500 pieces of underground electrical equipment for possible safety hazards in the San Francisco Bay area, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
PG&E officials told state regulators the company has fired or suspended eight company employees and 11 contract workers who said they performed required inspections but may have failed to do so.
The company suspects some workers lied about conducting the inspections intended to prevent disastrous accidents.
The San Francisco-based utility says the issue came to light after an employee notified supervisors that a colleague was certifying underground electrical switches and transformers as safe without inspecting them.
In a statement Thursday, PG&E said it has conducted “thorough investigations to determine how widespread the issue was, and then re-inspected all of the facilities inspected by employees and contractors whose work was questioned.”
Under California law, PG&E is required to conduct inspections every three years of all underground enclosures used to house cables, transformers and switches. Workers are supposed to examine equipment for damage such as corrosion that can lead to blackouts, fires and explosions.
Most of the equipment that PG&E is now checking is in southern Alameda County and the south San Francisco Bay, where the first of the possibly fraudulent inspections came to light in 2010, the newspaper said.