3 p.m., Dec. 6
Utilities Commission to Hear from San Diego Public
The California Public Utilities Commission today said that there will be an open meeting April 5 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. for San Diegans to state their opinions to commission officials about San Diego Gas & Electric's attempt to get customers to pay for the uninsured costs of the 2007 wildfires, as well as future fires.
The meeting will be at the Al Bahr Shrine Auditorium, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road. The session could extend another day, according to public utilities commissioner Timothy Simon at an all-party meeting today (Feb. 23) in San Francisco. Several groups, particularly Ramona's Mussey Grade Road Alliance, have been pressing for such a meeting at which Simon and/or the administrative law judge on the case would hear from the public.
A number of groups spoke against SDGE's plan to pass these costs to ratepayers, and not to shareholders. Attorney Mike Aguirre noted that regulators have found SDGE negligent in the 2007 fires, and mismanagement costs should be borne by shareholders.
The current estimate of these costs for 2007 fires alone comes to more than $350 per SDGE billpayer, and costs of future fires would represent a blank check. At the hearing, various groups, including the utility commission's Consumer Protection & Safety Division and Division of Ratepayer Advocates, strongly opposed SDGE's attempt to shift costs to ratepayers.
"This utility proposal does nothing for ratepayers and only protects shareholders," said a representative of the protection and safety division. "No [SDGE] financial burden has been demonstrated," said a representative of the Division of Ratepayer Advocates, noting, as did other opponents, that "this sets a bad precedent."
It's a question of moral hazard, said Diane Conklin of the Mussey group. If the company is indemnified, it will not work to make sure its lines will not start fires. Aguirre wanted Simon to be disqualified because of his close relationships with SDGE, but the San Diego lawyer was told that such a complaint must be filed in writing.