Ian Pike noon, Dec. 8
Why Does City Council Accept Wildfires as SDG&E "Business As Usual"?
According to the amended joint Wildfire Expense Balancing Account application filed by Southern California Edison components for themselves, PG&E, and SDG&E, utility company liability for wildfires "is an unavoidable cost of doing business... Even if a Utility is in perfect compliance with the [California Public Utilities] Commission’s rules, its facilities may nevertheless contribute to a fire. Costs resulting from wildfires are an inherent cost of fulfilling the Utilities’ duty to serve, and as such the Utilities are entitled to the opportunity to recover such costs."
There is a big question as to whether uninsured wildfire costs on the part of power utilities are unavoidable. During SDG&E employee testimony regarding the 2007 San Diego County wildfire complex, it was revealed that one wildfire started after SDG&E's vegetation management program failed to have a tree trimmed because the program manager was not handed a written followup memo to a contractor's computer system alert that the tree needed trimming in the next "0-3 months."
As a result of the standard power industry practices of maintaining overhead power lines, the investor owned utilities continue to insist that utility liability for wildfires in unavoidable. But why is a practice that started in the 19th and early 20th century, before San Diego became a major metropolitan area, still being used throughout the state in the third millennium? Why, especially now that SDG&E and the other investor owned utilities are quite aware that major insurers will no longer insure the consequences of standard power industry practices that avoid the cost of putting lines underground but have no problem sticking customers for the wildfire liability that naturally is the expected result of those practices?
I am personally expecting that the utilities will get their WEBA uninsured wildfire billing authority over us in a few months. That unlimited rate hike will be followed by SDG&E's PeakShift at Work/PeakShift at Home (PSW/PSH) peak rate hike for small business and residential customers. Somewhere in the mix is still another SDG&E rate hike request because it was surprised by the wildfire insurance loss of coverage after 2007.
The silence from the San Diego City Council members as the keepers of the City electricity franchise ordinance, under which all of SDG&E's rate hike requests are merely hands-off tax increases by our City Council, is not at all amusing since the Proposition D half-cent sales tax increase really cannot compare to the local economic damage of the combined tax increase effect on residents and small businesses of those proposed SDG&E electricity rate hikes in the CPUC pipeline.
Use the top-of-page Reader site search box on "SDG&E Computer Model Failed to Predict 2007 Rice Fire" to find links to SDG&E testimony regarding causes of 2007 Rice Fire, where SDG&E contractor's warning to trim tree was ignored, leading to hazardous utility equipment conditions and largest mass evacuation in County history.