(July 29, 2016 – San Diego) SDG&E customers have averted a $100 million rate hike today — but you’ll likely not see this important news reported in the media. This big news is somewhat obscured by the complexities of the regulatory process, so here’s what happened in a nutshell: In 2015, SDG&E submitted a request with state regulators (Public Utilities’ Commission) to recover an additional $100 million for the Sunrise Powerlink which it built back in 2010. SDCAN opposed SDG&E’s rate hike request (in fact, we were the ONLY entity — including PUC staff itself — to oppose the utility’s request). Today, the judge assigned to hear the case for the PUC issued a ruling rejecting SDG&E’s request for more money calling it “moot”. Instead, she ruled, SDG&E has to now explain why it never told state regulators about the project cost-overruns, even though the regulators had warned SDG&E back in 2008 when it approved the transmission project that SDG&E had a legal obligation to inform regulators about any excess costs on the $1.8 billion project. The judge’s ruling can be read here. In sum, SDG&E was told not only will the PUC not permit SDG&E to increase its revenues to cover cost-overruns on the project but now it will consider penalties for SDG&E’s failure to inform the regulators of the overruns.
Later in 2016, we expect that the Commission will hold hearings on why SDG&E withheld this information from the CPUC and what, if any, penalties or refunds that SDG&E will have to give to the public. But in the interim, SDG&E customers should breathe a sigh of relief that the Commission has rejected SDG&E’s $100 million rate hike request.