SAN FRANCISCO -- PG&E is scheduled to be formally told of the felony criminal charges against it in connection with its alleged role in the fatal San Bruno natural gas explosion when the utility is arraigned at a hearing on April 21.

The utility is expected to enter a plea of not guilty at the arraignment. PG&E had been scheduled for arraignment on Wednesday, but that initial court session was postponed to later this month at the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The 12-count indictment alleges that PG&E knowingly and willfully violated the federal Pipeline Safety Act and its regulations between 2003 and 2010, culminating in the September 2010 explosion that killed eight people, injured 66 and destroyed 38 homes.

San Francisco-based PG&E faces up to $6 million in criminal fines if convicted on all 12 counts.

The prosecutors, through the criminal case, could seek to impose remedies on PG&E, including court-ordered supervision or receivership of some or all of its gas operations.

PG&E said previously in regulatory filings that it believes the indictment is without merit.

"We continue to work with the courts on the timing of the proceedings," said Greg Snapper

Contact George Avalos at 408-859-5167. Follow at twitter.com/georgeavalos