SDG&E Wildfire Expense Memorandum Account (WEMA)
On September 25, 2015, SDG&E filed an Application requesting CPUC
approval to recover $379 million in wildfire damage costs to third
parties, in excess of its insurance coverage. The wildfire costs
resulted from the Witch, Guejito, and Rice fires in San Diego County in
October 2007, which were ignited by SDG&E facilities. SDG&E
originally settled over 2,000 lawsuits for more than $2.4 billion. The
$379 million reflects the remaining costs after accounting for insurance
coverage from other parties.
2016, the CPUC issued a Ruling
setting the schedule and scope of the issues to be addressed in the proceeding,
- Whether SDG&E’s operation, engineering, and management of its facilities prior to the 2007 Wildfires were reasonable.
- Legal and policy questions regarding SDG&E’s right to recover the remaining costs associated with the wildfires.
The CPUC determined that if it is necessary to address settling legal claims and whether SDG&E’s actions and decision-making in connection with settling of legal claims and costs in relation to the wildfires were reasonable, it will do so in a second phase of the proceeding.
performed a detailed analysis of SDG&E’s application and recommends
that SDG&E’s request for ratepayers to fund $379 million in
wildfire-related costs should be denied.
ORA’s analysis determined:
Fire: SDG&E’s actions in response to issues with a high-voltage
transmission line directly led to the ignition of the Witch Fire. Given
the conditions in the area and the history of the line in question,
SDG&E should have responded more quickly to reports of and concerns
about contact between wires.
- Guejito Fire: SDG&E failed to
maintain the required distances between its power lines and
communications lines owned by Cox Communications. SDG&E’s actions
and poor inspection procedures directly led to the ignition of the
- Rice Fire: SDG&E failed to heed the advice of a pre-trim inspector, who recommended that a sycamore tree be
trimmed to avoid coming too close to a power line. The tree branch later
broke, disrupting the line and causing the Rice Fire.
ORA determined that wind and environmental conditions at the time of the
three fires were known local conditions for which SDG&E should have
ORA finds that SDG&E failed to manage its
facilities reasonably, directly leading to the ignition of the Witch,
Guejito, and Rice fires. SDG&E’s actions since the 2007 wildfires do
not excuse it from prior poor management. Accordingly, the CPUC should
reject SDG&E’s Application.
October 3, 2016 Testimony on SDG&E's WEMA Application.
February 19, 2016 Joint
PHC Statement proposing proceeding schedule.
ORA’s October 30, 2015 Protest
on SDG&E’s WEMA Application.
the CPUC Proceeding
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