Southern California Edison has filed a joint amended application for authority to bill customers for outstanding Wildfire Expense Balancing Account (WEBA) amounts that record future uninsured wildfire legal and related costs. The amended WEBA application by SCE, SDG&E, and PG&E was ordered to be filed back in December 2009 by Administrative Law Judge Maribeth Bushey and Assigned Commissioner Timothy Simon.

If WEBA authority is granted, then the investor owned utilities (known to CPUC as the IOUs) will be able to pass on all uninsured wildfire claims costs to consumers regardless of utility responsibility for causing and contributing to wildfires in San Diego County or in other IOU service areas. Negligent and other unreasonable utility actions contributing to wildfires and uninsured wildfire liability would have to be challenged in a separate CPUC complaint proceedings to be excluded from WEBA, but in any case, a CPUC finding that a utility violated CPUC orders or rulings in any wildfire would be ground for CPUC by statute to sue the utility for damages to the fullest extent of the law.

Curiously, even being sued by CPUC for wildfire negligence is also eligible to be included as a legitimate utility WEBA charge to consumers unless there are additional CPUC hearings, also subject to payment by consumers ad nausem.

A persistent countywide hazard exists in SDG&E's use of overhead transmission and distribution lines, and the countywide hazard will persist until about 2063, when SDG&E estimates that most lines will finally be placed underground. This persistent hazard is made obvious by its failure to be mentioned at all within the four corners of the IOUs' amended WEBA application.

Also conspicuous by absence is any mention of the utility holding company's first priority condition to infuse working and other needed capital into an owned utility, where CPUC previously decided that such infusions need take place even if they caused a loss, as those same holding companies both received the benefits of dividends from utility gross receipts and removed capital from the owned utilities that could have been used to put power lines underground or to make other similar safety and service improvements to public utility property in the first place.

New Proceeding Calendar Ordered by ALJ Bushey

All protests to the amended WEBA application A0908020 must be filed under CPUC specific rules of practice by September 8, 2010. All persons filing protests are parties to the proceeding, although the assigned administrative law judge may limit or even exclude parties from participation if a specific party's position are well represented by other parties in support or opposition. Protests would be considered in good form if they are served on all persons currently listed to receive service of both the underlying initial application A0908020 and subsequent filings to CPUC proceeding. CPUC may take action against parties who file papers only for the purpose of delaying CPUC business. Parties should seek legal advice from someone familiar with CPUC proceedings procedure in ratesetting matters with evidentiary hearings and time-sensitive responses.

Replies to protests will be filed and served by noon on September 13, 2010.

The prehearing conference will be on September 14, 2010, at the 10:00 AM Hearing Courtroom session at the Office State Building, 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco. Persons making a verbal protest at the prehearing conference may become parties to the proceeding.

By law, individual parties may be compensated for the reasonable costs of intervening if their comments form part of the decision issued by CPUC in the matter. Parties must comply with applicable Public Utility Code standards for receiving utility payments of intervening costs in the public interest.

If I file a protest to the amended WEBA application, then I will do so by also stating that I will not participate as a party, I will not apply for intervenor compensation, and any party is free to adopt any of my comments sent to CPUC or posted at the Reader website that may be cited by CPUC in its decision.

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