California’s wildfires used to be seasonal. Now they happen all year long, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
These fires will only become more severe as global warming continues to disrupt local climates. This is especially true in Southern California, which is the driest region of the state.
But some years have already been quite severe.
Take 2007 for example. Unusually strong Santa Ana winds caused power lines to fall. And this created raging blazes throughout Witch Creek, Guejito, and Rice Canyon.
Well, guess what.
SDG&E would like you to foot the bill for the $379 million in damage that resulted from the 2007 inferno.
Should Homeowners Be Required to Pay for California’s Wildfires?
If the utility company gets its way, it will be allowed to add an extra $1.67 surcharge on every residential customer’s electricity bill.
Never mind that it wasn’t homeowners who caused this fire. It was a natural disaster that directly affected SDG&E’s own power lines.
Be that as it may, the utility is pushing the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to begin charging homeowners this extra “wildfire tax.”
Fortunately, this extra charge won’t happen automatically. According to the CPUC, SDG&E must prove that these costs were:
“[P]rudently incurred by competent management exercising the best practices of the era, and using well- trained, well-informed and conscientious employees and contractors who are performing their jobs properly.”
In other words, the utility must demonstrate that the damage didn’t happen from negligence. Otherwise, customers can’t be required to pay higher rates.
We would argue that generating electricity from fossil fuel actually is a type of negligence. These wildfires are becoming worse because of climate change – a global problem that stems directly from continued reliance on oil, natural gas, and coal.
But even if the damage doesn’t stem from SDG&E’s own negligence, we still don’t understand why homeowner should be required to cover these costs. This is especially true since the utility already received roughly $1 billion from its insurance company and an extra $824 million from other sources.
We don’t think SDG&E should receive any money from homeowners.
Not one penny.
And if you feel the same way, be sure to share your views with state regulators.
The CPUC has opened up public hearings to allow utility customers to voice their concerns about this retroactive wildfire tax. If you can’t attend the next hearing on January 9 in Escondido, you can send written comments directly to the CPUC using the info down below:
CPUC Public Advisor
505 Van Ness Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94102
Make sure that all materials refer to the correct proceeding number – A.15-09-010.