San Francisco Chronicle: CPUC Denies PG&E Opportunity for Ratepayer Bailout for Napa-Sonoma Fires

June 28, 2019

The CPUC has issued a decision approving a “stress test” methodology that SCE could use to get a ratepayer-funded bailout for the Thomas Fire even if it is deemed to have acted imprudently and caused the fire.  In an unexpected, but welcome, move, the CPUC prohibited PG&E for using this stress test  to recover costs from the Napa-Sonoma Fires. 

“‘This is a big blow for PG&E,’ said April Rose Maurath Sommer, the executive and legal director of the Wild Tree Foundation, which was involved in the regulatory proceedings. ‘That aspect of the decision is very good.’  She said the stress test could still potentially be used by Southern California Edison, whose equipment state investigators have said sparked the 2017 Thomas Fire.”  -San Francisco Chronicle, PG&E probably barred from new path for raising rates because of 2017 fires read more
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San Francisco Chronicle: Regulators race to give PG&E a path to raise rates for wildfire costs

April 22, 2019

Wild Tree Foundation is pushing back against California Public Utilities Commission efforts to approve a blueprint for a PG&E bailout for the Napa-Sonoma Fires.

“April Rose Maurath Sommer, the executive and legal director of Wild Tree Foundation, said “in an ideal world,” regulators would dismiss the proceeding. She thinks the stress test provision was included in 2018 legislation, SB901, to stave off a PG&E bankruptcy, which happened anyway.  “The only reason I can see that the commission is interested in pushing this proceeding so quickly and so aggressively is they consider it their role that they improve the outlook of PG&E for investors,” Maurath Sommer said. “The commission’s role is not to protect PG&E. It’s not to protect the utilities. It’s to protect the ratepayers.” -San Francisco Chronicle, Regulators race to give PG&E a path to raise rates for wildfire costs read more read more

Los Angles Times/San Diego Union Tribune: Mixed Reaction to Newsom’s Strike Force Report on California Wildfires

April 12, 2019

Governor Newsom’s Strike Force report on Wildfires and Climate Change: California’s Energy Future has some good ideas but a reversal of strict liability/inverse condemnation for utility-caused fires is not one of them.

“April Maurath Sommer, a longtime defender of inverse condemnation, said the doctrine does not need to be modified. Changing inverse condemnation “is a distraction,” said Maurath Sommer, the executive director of the Wild Tree Foundation, an environmental and consumer group based in the San Francisco Bay Area. “The utilities’ negligent practices have caused these fires and that is what we’re dealing with and that is what needs to be addressed.”- Los Angles Times/San Diego Union Tribune, Mixed Reaction to Newsom’s Strike Force Report on California Wildfires  read more read more