Consumer Advocates Want SDG&E Plan Short-Circuited

Should customers pay for SDG&E’s negligence?

SAN DIEGO — The Northern California-based Utility Reform Network, TURN, says it is time for the California Public Utilities Commission to reject SDG&E’s proposal for a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account. The fund would let the utility recover costs linked to wildfires from ratepayers.

State regulators balked at the original proposal, so SDG&E offered to shift 10 percent of the cost to shareholders. That proposal also lifted the cap on ratepayer liability, and that doesn’t sit well with consumer advocates.

“SDG&E wants all the costs of the 2007 wildfires to be paid by customers,” said Mindy Spatt, a spokeswoman for TURN. “And they want to know in advance that even if they are negligent, even if there’s criminality involved, customers are going to pick up the tab.”

The utility did not return calls seeking comment.