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Group Wants Public Hearings On SDG&E Wildfire Costs

Aired 1/23/12 on KPBS News.

A citizen's watchdog group wants regulators to hold public hearings on San Diego Gas & Electric's request for customers to foot the bill for wildfire costs that its insurance companies won't cover.

A citizen's watchdog group wants regulators to hold public hearings on San Diego Gas & Electric's request for customers to foot the bill for wildfire costs that its insurance companies won't cover.

SDG&E filed paper work with the California Public Utilities Commission more than two years ago asking that ratepayers cover uninsured expenses of future wildfires. Last month, the company inserted a line asking that the request also include uninsured costs from the 07 fires. Some of those fires were started by SDG&E's own lines.

Diane Conklin, a spokeswoman with the watchdog group Mussey Grade Road Alliance, called SDG&E's insertion of that line a ploy.

"I would characterize it as bait and switch and unconscionable," Conklin said. "What SDG&E is saying is we're not going to worry about whether our system is safe enough for you. We're going to ask you to pay for uninsured wildfire costs forever."

SDG&E spokeswoman Stephanie Donovan said the company doesn't oppose public hearing on the matter.

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