The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today approved penalties and permanent disallowances against Southern California Edison (SCE) for violations related to the ignition of five 2017 — 2018 Southern California wildfires. Under a proposed settlement with the CPUC’s Safety and Enforcement Division (SED), SCE shareholders will pay a US$110 million penalty to California’s General Fund, incur a $375 million permanent disallowance for cost recovery, and contribute US$65 million in shareholder funds to safety measures, for a total of $550 million.
The Rye, Meyers, Liberty, and Thomas Fires ignited across several parts of SCE’s service territory in December 2017. In November 2018, the Woolsey Fire began in Ventura County. Together these fires burned more than 385,000 acres, damaged and destroyed nearly 3000 structures, and caused five fatalities. SED’s investigations into the five fires and the involvement of SCE’s infrastructure found multiple violations of General Order 95, a CPUC regulation that sets forth safety factors and strength requirements in the design, construction, and maintenance of overhead electrical lines and communications facilities. The settlement addresses these violations through shareholder-funded safety measures that include system enhancements to strengthen SCE’s electric system, community engagement activities, and investments in safety studies.
The settlement is formally referred to as an Administrative Consent Order. This new enforcement tool was created in November 2020, when the CPUC adopted an Enforcement Policy to better serve Californians through streamlined enforcement actions that can be taken by CPUC enforcement staff in lieu of issuing a Citation or seeking a formal Order Instituting Investigation (OII). The addition of these tools to the CPUC’s enforcement options in 2020 moved the CPUC’s practices more in line with the enforcement practices of many other state and local enforcement agencies.
The Resolution and related documents are available here.
The CPUC regulates services and utilities, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. For more information on the CPUC, click here.