State Regulators To Decide This Week Whether To Reimburse SDG&E For '07 Fire Costs
The longstanding question of who will foot the huge bill for the uninsured wildfire costs from 2007, customers or San Diego Gas & Electric’s shareholders, is expected to be settled this week.
The 2007 wildfires killed two people and destroyed 1,300 homes. State investigators found that the SDG&E violated safety rules by failing to properly design, construct and maintain its power lines and that’s what caused the fires.
The company ultimately paid a $14 million settlement over the fires. But the fires caused as much as $2 billion in damages in San Diego County. SDG&E has also settled with hundreds of people who lost their homes in the fires and has exceeded its $1 billion liability insurance limit. It’s the bill for the remaining, uninsured, damages that could total hundreds of millions more that SDG&E wants customers -- not shareholders -- to shoulder.
Consumer groups said the total increase could cost anywhere from $350 to $700 per meter. In April, hundreds of angry customers told state regulators they would be letting them down and flouting the concept of accountability if they allowed SDG&E to bill ratepayers for their uninsured wildfire costs instead of shareholders.
Last month, an administrative law judge rebuffed SDG&E’s request. It’s now up to regulators to determine who will pay.