By Miriam Raftery
November 1, 2009 (San Diego) – San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) has agreed to pay $14.3 million to the state to settle claims that its poor maintenance caused the 2007 Witch Creek, Rice, and Guejito fires, plus an extra $400,000 in reimbursement to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). SDG&E did not admit causing the fires, but did issue an apology for obstructing investigators seeking causes of the fires.
Cox Cable agreed to pay the state $2 million. “We believe that our line was properly maintained and intact prior to the Santa Ana winds in 2007, and did not cause the Guejito fire,” a Cox statement read. The PUC will decide after a public hearing in San Diego whether to approve the proposed settlement, which would be paid from company profits, not ratepayers.
Some community leaders expressed dissatisfaction at the news. “It seems to be business as usual for SDG&E,” observed Donna Tisdale, Boulevard Planning Group chair. “Get caught lying, cheating, or failing to comply, refuse to admit guilt, give a half-assed apology, and write a big fat check that never reaches the impacted/damaged communities.”