Senator Hill Hails CPUC Decision to Reject Demand from San Diego Utility to Pass the Buck for Wildfire Costs to Customers

November 30, 2017

For Immediate Release, Office of State Senator Jerry Hill, November 30, 2017

State Senator Jerry Hill Hails CPUC Decision to Block San Diego Utility from Passing the Buck on 2007 Southern California Wildfire Costs to Fire Victims and Other Ratepayers

SAN MATEO – State Senator Jerry Hill issued the following statement today in response to the California Public Utilities Commission's unanimous decision to reject the San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s demand to pass along $379 million in costs for uninsured liability claims to customers as a result of three Southern California wildfires that occurred a decade ago.

“I am relieved that the CPUC made the right decision to shield ratepayers from being burdened with the costs of the 2007 San Diego wildfires that were caused because San Diego Gas & Electric didn’t reasonably manage its powerlines,” said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. “Although it was mentioned at the hearing that the decision was specific to the San Diego fires, and does not have applicability to other disasters, if the commission had sided with the utility companies, it could have set a dangerous precedent for the future of disaster cost recovery, or at the very least, created a perception of a precedent. Today’s decision concludes a decade long process to rightly assign the costs of the tragic fires to the company responsible for causing them.”

The case has been closely watched by the utility industry and, closer to home, by PG&E, which has said that if it is found liable in the devastating Northern California wildfires, it too will seek CPUC permission to pass along the cost for claims that exceed its insurance coverage to ratepayers.

In November, Senator Hill wrote the CPUC urging it to end the delays in the case and uphold the proposed decision that the administrative law judges issued in August. The senator and other legislators have also announced that they will introduce a bill in January to prevent electrical utilities found culpable in wildfires from passing their uninsured liabilities along to customers.

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Resources

View Senator Hill’s Letter to the CPUC here:
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/sites/sd13.senate.ca.gov/files/11-15-17_-_letter_to_puc_-_wildfires.pdf

View news release on prospective legislation here:
http://sd13.senate.ca.gov/news/2017-10-30-state-legislators-introduce-bill-prohibiting-electric-utilities-found-fault

Archived video of the CPUC meeting is expected to be available here:
http://www.adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc/

View proposed decision by administrative law judges here:
http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Efile/G000/M193/K981/193981771.PDF

Media Contact: Leslie Guevarra, 415-298-3404 cell, leslieguevarra@sen.ca.gov