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SDG&E Rates Rising

— SDG&E customers will have to pay more on their utility bills next year. The increased rates are linked to the 2007 wild fires.

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved the higher rates. The commission says the additional money will pay for rebuilding of electrical equipment damaged during the 2007 wild fires.

Stephanie Donovan, is with SDG& E . She called the increase a catastrophic-expense account.

“The catastrophic event memorandum account was for the wildfires. It basically was keeping track of the cost that SDG&E spent to rebuild electrical systems after the wildfires. That is the amount over and above what was already in our rates to maintain and repair.”

SDG&E had originally asked for $50 million in equipment-recovery costs, but agreed to accept $43 million from consumer rate hikes, which start in January said Donovan.

“That $43 million will flow through to customers as a slight increase in rates, 35 to 75 cents per month perhaps,” she said.

An additional rate increase related to SDG&E’s fire-insurance costs will be voted on by the Public Utilities Commission in the next few months.

In the meantime, SDG&E has paid more than $15 million in settlement money to the PUC over the last few years.

The 2007 wildfires, the Sunrise Powerlink, and the statewide energy crisis in 2000 led to settlement agreements between SDG&E, its parent company Sempra Energy and the PUC.

SDG&E says they’ve already paid more than $15 million to the commission as agreed to in the settlement without admission of fault.

Donovan said customers did not foot the bill for any of the settlement payments.

“The money that you refer to in terms of the settlements, all of that money has been paid for by our shareholders, not customers.”

Sempra Energy also agreed to pay more than $107 million to the PUC to settle allegations that resulted in statewide energy shortages of 2000 and 2001.

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