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More than 600 people converged on the Al Bahr Shriners Center in Kearny Mesa yesterday in opposition to a proposal from SDG&E to raise utility rates as a way to recover costs from the 2007 wildfires.

Residents spent much of the two meetings blasting the energy company and their attempt to recover costs for the fires which were ignited by downed power lines and responsible for the deaths of two people, and the destruction of more than 1,300 homes.

In all, the three fires amounted to more than $1.1 billion in damages, all covered by SDG&E's insurance. However, the company, owned by energy giant Sempra Energy, paid an additional $500 million or so to third-parties for uninsured damages.

To recover those costs, SDG&E is asking the Public Utilities Commission allow them to create a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account, an account funded through increased utility rates. The account would not only recover most of the $500 million, but also cover increased insurance rates.

It's safe to say that the proposal isn't well received. Nearly 200 residents, many of which lost their homes in the fires, addressed Commissioner Timothy Simon and Judge Maribeth Bushey.

"The fires were self-inflicted by SDG&E, rate payers had nothing to do with it," said one Rancho Bernardo resident. "This wasn't an act of God. God had nothing to do with this. He wasn't sitting around saying I want to burn San Diego. This was a decision from SDG&E management not to protect the lines and not to protect the ratepayers. We got burned once...don't let us get burned again."

In addition to residents, Supervisors Dianne Jacob, Pam Slater-Price, and Solana Beach council member David Roberts also came out against the proposal.

The utilities commission is expected to hear the issue at a future meeting.

Residents wishing to submit additional comments can visit the CPUC website.

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Comments

icapture April 6, 2012 @ 9:43 a.m.

I am as concerned about this rate hike as anyone else. But this article is completely one sided. What is SDGE's argument when it comes to this issue? Why do they think the customers should be the ones paying for their increased insurance rates? When I send in my email to Commission President Peevey I want to be able to speak to both sides of the issue, not just the side of this customer. Come on Dorian, lets see a balanced article.

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Dorian Hargrove April 6, 2012 @ 12:28 p.m.

icapture, I apologize for not being clear enough. SDG&E says, as I wrote in the article: "To recover those costs, SDG&E is asking the Public Utilities Commission allow them to create a Wildfire Expense Balancing Account, an account funded through increased utility rates. The account would not only recover most of the $500 million, but also cover increased insurance rates."

No much more to it than cost recovery, higher insurance premiums, funds in case of future fires.

Thanks!

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