Supervisor opposes utility’s recovery cost plan
By Karen Brainard
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has thrown in her support for a public hearing on a San Diego Gas and Electric proposal that she said could lead to customers paying millions for wildfire recovery costs.
SDG&E applied to the California Public Utilities Commission to establish a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account (WEBA) to record costs from the 2007 wildfires and any future fires. SDG&E Spokesperson Stephanie Donovan said the utiity would have to file a separate application seeking CPUC authorization before any balances in the account could be recovered in rates.
In a motion to the state utility commission, Ramona’s Mussey Grade Road Alliance requested a public participation hearing in San Diego on the WEBA application. SDG&E opposes such a hearing at this time.
Jacob stated in her letter to Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon of the CPUC that she strongly objects to San Diego Gas and Electric’s proposal to establish a balancing account which could cost ratepayers more than $450 million.
Stating that SDG&E violated Commision safety rules and was responsible for the Guejito, Witch and Rice fires, Jacob wrote: “If the CPUC were to approve the WEBA, public utilities would have a disincentive to properly maintain their infrastructure and the burden to ensure safe equipment would be thrust unfairly upon ratepayers.”
Jacob also said that as a matter of procedure and diligence the CPUC should hold a public hearing to hear from people who can speak from experience about the importance of policies that prioritize safety.
Although Mussey Grade Road Alliance Spokesperson Diane Conklin had requested that the CPUC rule on a public hearing by Feb. 1, she had not received a response from the Commission as of Feb. 6.
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