- The San Diego Union-Tribune reports two large investor-owned utilities in California are now supporting San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)'s bid to charge customers for $379 million in costs related to wildfires that hit the state's southern region 10 years ago.
- Meanwhile, a private citizen has sued the California Public Utilities Commission for not finalizing a decision that would have denied the utility an avenue to recover those funds. Customer advocates are adamantly opposed to ratepayers picking up the bill.
- The case has become public again because Pacific Gas & Electric is under scrutiny for a possible role it may have played in sparking deadly wildfires that burned through Sonoma and Napa counties.
California is still battling an outbreak of deadly wildfires, but in the news today is a similar situation that occurred 10 years ago.
In 2007, a series of fires destroyed 1,300 homes and 200,000 acres in San Diego County. Administrative law judges subsequently found SDG&E had not properly managed the risk to its system, and a vote on those findings is scheduled at the CPUC for Nov. 9.
PG&E and Southern California Edison are now supporting SDG&E's bid to recover costs, as the state's risk of widespread fires increases. PG&E is now under scrutiny for a possible role in sparking the latest wildfires. The CPUC has directed PG&E to preserve any evidence that connects the utility to wildfires, and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection is investigating the utility's power equipment as a possible cause.
Protect Our Communities Foundation Executive Director April Sommer told the Union-Tribune that if utilities can pass on those costs, despite not properly maintaining their systems, “there would no impetus whatsoever for the utilities to put money into safety, maintenance and the other things they can do to prevent these disasters."