PUC Rejects SDG&E Power Shut-off Plan

Regulators weigh San Diego utility's wildfire plan

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Regulators will decide today whether SDG&E can cut power to thousands of homes in dry, windy weather.

    California regulators decided not to allow SDG&E to cut electricity to San Diego-area bedroom communities when weather is ripe for major wildfires.

    San Diego Gas & Electric Co. wanted authority to cut power to 60,000 homes and businesses in dry, windy weather -- before fires hit.

    The utility's power lines have been blamed for causing devastating wildfires two years ago. It claims those fires probably wouldn't have happened if an emergency shutoff plan had been in effect.

    The California Public Utilities Commission met this morning in San Francisco and voted 4-1 to deny SDG&E's shut off proposal. Several commissioners were critical of the plan.

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    They also denied an option that would've allowed SDG&E to keep the proposal alive and work on a compromise to present later to the commission.

    Consumer advocate Michael Shames said today's ruling has actually caused some confusion.

    Shames says even though commissioners rejected the shut-off plan and said it would be wrong to leave thousands of rural residents without power, those same commissioners said SDG&E still has the authority to shut off electrical service without PUC approval.

    Shames, who runs the consumer watch-dog group UCAN, wonders if SDG&E will take those comments as an approval to shut offf power, and under what circumstances it would pull the plug on thousands of East County residents.

    "So for now, everybody's in the dark about whether they're going to be in the dark. And now we have to wait for SDG&E, to find out what they're going to do," Shames says.

    The utility company has not commented yet on the PUC's decision, or its future plans regarding possible shut-offs.