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SDG&E Presses For Customer Reimbursement For Uninsured Wildfire Costs

Aired 11/16/11 on KPBS News.

Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison-- are withdrawing from the case.

San Diego Gas & Electric is continuing efforts to get customers to pay for wildfire expenses insurance companies won't cover.

Earlier this year, a regulatory judge called the power companies' request to require customers to pay for uninsured wildfire costs "unprecedented and extraordinary." PG&E said it's backing out of the case because settlement talks went nowhere.

Southern California Edison won't say why it is withdrawing, but San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre, who opposed the utilities effort, said they're leaving because they knew they couldn't win.

SDG&E's lines ignited three major fires in 2007. Investigators said the company did not properly maintain its lines. Aguirre said the case boils down to…

"Should the innocent ratepayers pay for the insurance damages or should the company and its management that caused the fire pay for it?" Aguirre asked.

An SDG& E spokeswoman said the utility is pursuing the case because it feels it's important. She added that SDG&E's liability for the '07 fires exceeds its $1.1 billion insurance limit and will surpass $2 billion.

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