San Diego Gas & Electric can't pass 2007 fire costs onto custome - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

San Diego Gas & Electric can't pass 2007 fire costs onto customers

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In this Oct. 22, 2007 file photo, three firefighters brace themselves from explosive heat coming from a burning home in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego, set off by a wildfire. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, file) In this Oct. 22, 2007 file photo, three firefighters brace themselves from explosive heat coming from a burning home in the Rancho Bernardo area of San Diego, set off by a wildfire. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi, file)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday rejected a request from a San Diego utility to force customers to shoulder $379 million in costs from three deadly blazes ignited by power lines in 2007.

Regulators voted unanimously to uphold an August decision by two judges, who said San Diego Gas & Electric did not act reasonably in managing its equipment and could not pass along costs to ratepayers. State law allows utilities to recover costs from customers only if they act in a "prudent" manner.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and utility commission investigators concluded that three blazes in San Diego County in October 2007 were caused by San Diego Gas & Electric's electrified wires.

"There is no dispute that each of the fires were caused by SDG&E facilities and in each instance we find that SDG&E did not meet its burden to show that it acted as a prudent manager," Commissioner Laine Randolph said.

The utility faced 2,500 lawsuits from people with fire damage and settled most of them for $2.4 billion. The $379 million it wanted to charge ratepayers remained after court proceedings, settlements and insurance payouts.

The blazes destroyed more than 1,300 homes, killed two people and injured 40 firefighters.

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