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California Considers If PG&E Penalty Is Worth Bankruptcy

California regulators must weigh whether a $2.25 billion penalty for safety lapses is worth potentially pushing PG&E Corp., owner of the state’s largest utility, into bankruptcy for the second time in 12 years.

PG&E expects the California Public Utilities Commission to decide by the end of this year on a punishment for a September 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people. Imposing the staff’s proposed penalty may force the company into bankruptcy if it can’t sell enough shares to pay for it, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Tony Earley said in an interview yesterday at Bloomberg headquarters in New York.