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SAN FRANCISCO, September 10, 2009 - The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today denied, without prejudice, San Diego Gas and Electric Company’s (SDG&E) request to proactively shut off power when certain fire conditions are present.  According to a press release issued by the CPUC, the Comission denied the request "because SDG&E has not met its burden to demonstrate that the benefits of shutting off power outweigh the significant costs, burdens, and risks that would be imposed on customers and communities in the areas where power is shut off."


Diane Conklin, head of the Mussey Grade Road Alliance, which has opposed the shut-off plan, applauded the outcome.  "We are pleased with the Commission's action, which is a wise decision. The people of San Diego County deserve to be heard," she told East County Magazine. "We think they have been. The Alliance has consistently said that any plan should be based on a rational and scientific basis. We, who live with the reality of fire in the backcountry, should be seen as the fire front line. Our concerns must be central. The utility needs to understand that. Obviously the Commission did."


The CPUC directed SDG&E to make a good faith effort to develop a comprehensive fire prevention program in collaboration with all stakeholders, and encouraged the use of the CPUC’s Alternative Dispute Resolution process for this purpose. The CPUC said that any new proposed fire prevention program must be based on a cost-benefit analysis and include detailed plans and timelines for mitigating any adverse impacts on customers and communities, and a proponent’s environmental assessment, if appropriate. If the collaborative process does not result in a consensus proposal, SDG&E may file its own proposed fire-prevention program with the same information included as discussed above. If SDG&E chooses to not file a fire-prevention proposal, it will notify parties to this proceeding and explain why it chose not to file a plan.


SDG&E continues to have the authority to shut off power in emergency situations when necessary to
protect public safety. Any decision by SDG&E to shut off power may be reviewed by the CPUC  under its broad jurisdiction regarding the safety of public utility operations and facilities.


SDG&E did not return a call requesting comment on the decision.


The proposal voted on today is available at:

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