SDG&E’s Free Pass on Wildfires Defeated

After being found liable for the Witch, Guejito and Rice wildfires that destroyed hundreds of homes, SDG&E added insult to injury with a demand for a blank check for the costs of its own negligence, both past and future.

For Immediate Release From The Utility Reform Network

SDG&E’s proposed a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account (WEBA) to the California Public Utilities commission (CPUC) that would have allowed SDG&E to charge consumers for the costs of all wildfires, EVEN IN CASES WHERE SDG&E WAS FOUND CRIMINALLY LIABLE!  SDG&E wanted to pass on the costs of its past neglect to customers as well, as it has been forced to pay over $400 million to resolve cases related to the 2007 wildfires.

TURN protested SDG&E’s shocking attempt to shield itself from liability at the CPUC and in the media.  “Fire victims should not be further victimized with higher rates,” said TURN staff attorney Nina Suetake,  “and the CPUC should require utility companies to put safety first, not give them incentives to cut back on safety measures.”  Hundreds of San Diego consumers spoke out forcefully at CPUC public hearings on the subject, and consumer advocates were firmly united in opposing it.

Today, the CPUC agreed with TURN that giving SDG&E a blank check was a bad idea. While SDG&E can always apply to the Commission for rate hikes to cover insurance and liability costs, today’s decision sends SDG&E a message that it can’t use its customers as a shield against their own negligence or take a  free pass on fire safety.  The WEBA would have exposed customers to billions of dollars in costs from wildfires, even if those wildfires started due to SDG&E’s own negligence.