California Regulators Settle With SDG&E Over 2007 Fires
The California Public Utilities Commission settled claims today that San Diego Gas and Electric's lines ignited three major wildfires in 2007. Under the deal, SDG&E will pay $14 million to the state's general fund but admits no wrongdoing.
In the settlement, SDG&E acknowledged its obligation and duty to respond promptly to regulators' requests for information and that its efforts to do that fell short during an investigation of the 2007 wildfires. SDG&E also issued an apology.
In a 2008 report on the fires, state investigators said SDG&E did not properly maintain its lines. SDG&E spokeswoman Stephanie Donovan says the utility works hard to make sure its lines are in compliance.
"And the agreement expressly states that SDG&E does not admit to any safety violation," said Donovan.
Public Utility Commissioner Timothy Simon said the settlement was resolved with a paramount focus on public safety and called it a victory for California. Supervisor Dianne Jacob called the settlement a joke.
"I don't understand how the PUC could agree to that if in fact the PUC thinks they represent the people of California and in particular San Diego County," said Jacob.
The settlement is separate from civil lawsuits against SDG&E filed by hundreds of people who lost their homes in the fires. The company has paid out hundreds of millions of dollars to settle those claims and expects to seek some reimbursement for them from customers.