SAN DIEGO - San Diego Gas and Electric's request for an application for a rate hike to recover insurance losses associated with the 2007 wildfires was denied, California Public Utilities Commission said Tuesday.
The fires of 2007 were not a natural disaster, ultimately SDG&E and neglected power lines were to blame for the disaster that took lives and destroyed homes, according to the final investigation.
“Lives were lost, massive amounts of devastation and not a single SDG&E person was held accountable,” said former San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre.
After insurance payouts and lawsuits, SDG&E was unable to recover roughly $500 million in excess liability insurance. To make up that difference SDG&E filed a petition to create a wildfire expense balancing account, or WEBA, to be paid for with a significant rate hike by the public.
“It would be in the hundreds of dollars," said attorney David Peffer of UCAN. “Roughly $300 per customer per year and that’s just for the 2007 wildfires. If there were additional fires in the future, we could have seen hundreds of dollars even thousands of dollars in increased bills.”
"We stand by our proposal of a 90/10 cost-sharing mechanism between customers and shareholders," SDG&E stated. "As we testified in the WEBA proceeding, we will seek rate recovery of costs that exceed the total of our insurance coverage and the amount we receive in settlements from third parties."
SDG&E can apply for what is called a "z-factor" with a separate commission, but they would have to prove that they were not responsible and the event was unanticipated. Attorney’s fighting the case said it is unlikely.