San Diego utility customers won’t have to foot costs from 2007 wildfires

A multimillon-dollar home burns to the ground in Poway during the deadly 2007 fires in San Diego County. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The California Public Utilities Commission rejected a request from San Diego Gas & Electric to pass onto ratepayers $379 million in costs related to three deadly wildfires that blazed through the area in 2007.

In making the decision, the commissioners ruled that SDG&E did not reasonably manage and operate its facilities leading up to the Witch, Guejito and Rice fires that killed two people, injured 40 firefighters and forced tens of thousands to seek shelter at Qualcomm Stadium. The three fires combined to destroy more than 1,300 homes.

SDG&E officials have maintained the wildfires that enveloped Southern California in October 2007 represented an unprecedented event and insist the utility responsibly managed its service territory.


Even though two commissioners expressed that their votes were “close calls,” all five members voted Thursday morning in San Francisco to reject the utility’s request.

What the vote means

If SDG&E’s request had been approved, it was estimated the average ratepayer would have paid $1.67 more per month over the span of six years.

The decision has been watched closely because it may set a precedent for California utilities, which could face billions of dollars in potential damages in cases of deadly wildfires.

Nikolewski writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.