State denies SDG&E bailout
Utility wanted to raise rates to pay off debt
Last Updated: 421 days ago
SAN DIEGO -
An attempt by San Diego Gas & Electric to increase rates to pay off its debt was denied Tuesday.
SDG&E owes an estimated $500 million for expenses from the 2007 wildfires, which two state investigations have determined SDG&E was at fault for.
Countless homes burned to the ground, lives were lost and families were changed forever after the Witch Fire in 2007. Many homeowners sued SDG&E, and the utility has already paid out more than $1 billion to cover the cost.
To get the money, SDG&E asked the state Public Utilities Commission to allow it to raise rates.
"If SDGE's request was approved, the money would have come directly from the pockets of San Diego ratepayers," said David Peffer, an attorney with the Utility Consumers' Action Network.
On Tuesday, A judge struck down the request -- a decision applauded by consumer advocates.
"This is a remarkable victory for the people of San Diego," said attorney Mike Aguirre.
Aguirre also acknowledged the battle isn't over. SDG&E plans to put in a second request to raise rates in order to pay off the fire debt.
SDG&E wouldn't answer questions on camera.
But in a statement, the utility said, "We stand by our proposal of a 90/10 cost-sharing mechanism between customers and shareholders."
In order to be successful, the second request would require SDG&E to show that it couldn't have prevented the fire or had no fault.
"That's an impossible burden for them," said Aguirre.
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