Pacific Gas & Electric used repairs to high risk pipelines to justify rate hikes in 2007 and 2009 of $5 million each. Part of the 'repairs' included the section of high risk pipeline that blew up last week. None of the work was ever done.
They did, however spend millions in support of Proposition 16, slickly worded to look as though it would give local governments more freedom to set up their own utilities. The small print actually raised the bar for local governments to make it far harder to do just that which would have guaranteed PG&E a virtual monopoly.
Fortunately the California voters smelled a rat when almost all the pro 16 funding came from large utility companies and voted it down.
The Tea Party/GOP crowd want to deregulate everything. This is what you get when that happens.