Matthew Lickona 11:49 p.m., Dec. 10
San Bruno Holocaust Reaches SDG&E, SCE, PG&E Uninsured Wildfire Expense Debate
On September 8, 2010, the last of the protests were filed with California's Public Utilities Commission against the Wildfire Expense Balancing Account (WEBA) proposal by San Diego Gas and Electric Company, two components of Southern California Edison Company, and Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Under the amended WEBA proposal recently filed by the investor owned utilities (known to CPUC as the IOUs), power consumers would pay for an individual IOU's uninsured wildfire legal and other related costs with no reasonableness test to guard against WEBA being used as a dumping ground for expenses from utility negligence or violations of CPUC rulings and orders.
On September 9, San Bruno went up in flames from an exploding PG&E high-pressure gas line, killing several and ending the life of a CPUC employee who had been investigating PG&E claims to CPUC back in 2007 that PG&E should be paid to replace highly dangerous gas pipelines, including the one that fireballed San Bruno around dinner time. Now PG&E could have replaced those defective pipeline sections as an urgent public safety matter and then asked CPUC to bill customers later, but the investors in PG&E decided that the first priority condition on infusing working and other capital into PG&E to do just that just didn't fit into their plans even if it had caused a quarterly loss or two, and so San Bruno isn't quite San Bruno anymore.
There is a lot to comment on here. I recently received numerous WEBA protests filed by the deadline that all need to be read, and I seem to have stumbled upon a CPUC ruling from last year that has many comments and utility protests regarding CPUC standards for wildfire prevention starting with the 2009 wildfire season.
Interestingly enough, I also received a copy of a motion filed by the City of San Diego regarding some SDG&E application (PSW/PSH?), and it needs reading and analysis for blogging ASAP. Maybe the City has finally become aware of the tax increase effect on residents and small businesses of all those SDG&E rate hike proposals...
At this point, it appears that multiple news agencies have discovered the WEBA application proceeding as part of the San Bruno disaster and the high-priced aftermath of the 2007 San Diego County wildfire complex. Reports I overheard on KGTV include comments by Michael Aguirre as an intervening attorney in the WEBA matter and a short piece on a possible legislative maneuver to bar utilities from passing on disaster response and recovery costs onto customers. On a tangentially related matter, it appears that the County of San Diego is revising rules to allow county residents to go off the power grid with apparently less hassle than before.
I'll be getting back to blogging on a more regular basis. I appear to be recovering from another one of those annoying heart attacks that my cardiologists did predict I'd run into periodically, and it takes me awhile to regain my strength and start wandering around on a minimal amount of nitrostat. In any case, there is a whole mess o' documents to look at regarding WEBA, PeakShift at Work/PeakShift at Home, and the unsupported conclusions by a certain utility that off-grid power generation is not a benefit to members of the public if and when the power grid goes dark.