Southern California Edison has asked the state utility regulator to allow it to recover the $2.4 billion it spent on lawsuits over a 2017 wildfire from customers through higher rates over the next three decades.
Southern California Edison filed with the California Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday the request to be able to recover $2.4 billion it had spent on lawsuits and $65 million on reconstruction costs from its customers, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
The higher rates would be spread over a period of 30 years, according to Southern California Edison’s request with the regulator.
The utility’s average customer would have to pay an additional $1.50 a month if the regulators approve the request, Edison’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, Caroline Choi, told Bloomberg.
Southern California Edison has spent a lot of money on lawsuits following the 2017 wildfire and subsequent mudslides that killed two dozen people overall.
The so-called Thomas fire in Ventura County in December 2017 was ignited by power lines owned by Southern California Edison, according to a 2019 report by the Ventura County Fire Department. The fire, which was started by power lines coming into contact during high winds, burned a total of 281,893 acres, destroyed 1,063 structures, and resulted in one civilian and one firefighter fatality. In total, the Thomas Fire burned for nearly 40 days, threatening the cities of Santa Paula, Ventura, Ojai and Fillmore, as well as many unincorporated communities, before moving into Santa Barbara County. It was declared 100% controlled on January 12, 2018.
That same month, rains triggered mudslides and thousands sued Southern California Edison for the wildfire and claimed the Thomas Fire also had stripped hillsides of vegetation which caused the mudslides.
Requesting to recover the costs for the lawsuits, Southern California Edison said in its Tuesday filing that it had properly maintained and operated its power lines and systems. The fire and mudslides were impacted by a number of factors outside Edison’s control, the company said.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.