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California Utility Customers Forced to Bail Out Utilities for Wildfires They Cause

October 9, 2019

A lawsuit filed in the Federal District Court in California shows that three Investor Owned Utilities in California, Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison, have recently argued to the U.S. Supreme Court that their tens of billions in wildfire liabilities should be paid for by utility customers – despite that Cal Fire repeatedly found electric utility safety violations to be the cause of the wildfires which led to the tens of billions in liabilities.


California Globe spoke with Attorney Maria Severson, who filed the lawsuit, as she explained the case:


PG&E was seeking $375 million back from the Public Utilities Commission for the wildfire payouts, and now must eat that money. The other utilities knew they also started fires. They asked the PUC if they could join in the PG&E case to unload the wildfire costs on ratepayers. Initially the PUC didn’t allow it, but PUC President Michael Picker let them in — after the trial!


Ultimately the PUC denied the utilities the wildfire repayments, and they appealed to the appellate court. They were denied by the appellate court. They appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which made clear they were unwilling to hear the case, and left it alone. 


They lost big in the courts, so they went to the Legislature and Governor Newsom for the bailout. And they got one.



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