Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) originated in 1905 in San Francisco and is now one of the largest natural gas and electric corporations in the United States. PG&E delivers energy to 15 million Californians through environmentally-safe operations. O’Neill and Associates was retained by PG&E to assist them with federal government relations and communications services following the September 2010 explosion of a natural gas transmission line in San Bruno, California. The blast killed eight people and leveled much of the city’s Crestview neighborhood.
O’Neill and Associates provided PG&E with federal government relations services to guide the company through the criminal investigation process with the NTSB. O’Neill and Associates maintained open lines of communication with the investigator in charge, NTSB Members and the various administration officials involved to ensure a swift resolution.
The accident resulted in a wholesale loss of consumer confidence in the utility’s brand. In order to rebuild its reputation, we assembled a team to conduct a comprehensive review of safety and communications protocols at PG&E. O’Neill and Associates’ team facilitated a review of all technical procedures. In addition, our team conducted an audit of PG&E’s internal and external communications mechanisms. Subsequently, we issued recommendations to ensure that all audiences – customers, public officials, employees, the media, etc. – are effectively communicated with during future crises. Our strategy also involved facilitating high-level meetings with officials at companies with exemplary records of communication.
O’Neill and Associates was able to anticipate and react quickly to NTSB requests for information. Furthermore, O’Neill and Associates maintained positive and symbiotic relationships with NTSB personnel throughout the process. Finally, O’Neill and Associates provided high-level access to NTSB officials, enabling PG&E to remain aware of the agency’s actions and disseminate critical information through clear and direct channels. Our navigation of PG&E through this crisis granted them recognition as a cooperative and professional participant during the final hearing of the investigation.
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