Commission rejects SDG&E’s wildfire recovery plan
Just before the end of 2012, state utility commissioners denied San Diego Gas & Electric’s application to recover its uninsured costs from the October 2007 wildfires.
Ramona’s Diane Conklin, speaking on behalf of the Mussey Grade Road Alliance, said the alliance was pleased with the California Public Utilities Commission’s unanimous decision to deny SDG&E’s Wildfire Expense Balancing Account (WEBA).
The Mussey Grade Road Alliance and other opponents of SDG&E’s plan said the WEBA would lead to increased utility rates and less safety and equipment maintenance.
County Supervisor Dianne Jacob also lauded the CPUC’s decision.
“This is a huge win for San Diego County residents—and for common sense,” said Jacob. “SDG&E’s proposal to charge ratepayers for fires the utility largely helped cause would have been a grave injustice to ratepayers and victims of the 2007 firestorms.”
Conklin, however, noted that the decision permits SDG&E “to put forward an application in the future to recover uninsured wildfire costs on a case-by-case basis with a reasonableness review.”
The CPUC decision on Dec. 20 was a version of Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey’s recommendation to deny the WEBA request with revisions by Commissioner Mark Ferron. Those changes permit SDG&E to keep its wildfire expense memorandum account open to record wildfire expenses in excess of liability insurance coverage and payments from third parties, and file separate applications in the future to recover costs, subject to reasonableness reviews.
According to SDG&E Senior Communications Manager Stephanie Donovan, SDG&E had $1.1 billion in liability insurance in 2007, and has paid out approximately $1.9 billion in claims, which includes money received in insurance proceeds and third-party recovery. Approximately 600 cases are still pending, she said in a statement.
SDG&E said in a prepared response to the commissioner’s decision, “We believe the commission today reached a reasonable compromise that gives SDG&E the opportunity to continue to make its case for rate recovery, while also allowing a robust reasonableness review by commissioners in the best interest of its customers.”
- Supervisor opposes utility’s recovery cost plan
- Two public utility officials reject SDG&E’s 2007 wildfire recovery plan
- Hundreds turn out for hearings on SDG&E wildfire cost recovery plan
- Ramonan fears SDG&E will get OK to bill customers for 2007 wildfire costs
- Commission agrees to public hearing on SDGE plan
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