Southern California’s Edison was fined $1 million for Easy Fire 2019 ~ California

California regulators have issued a $1 million subpoena to Southern California Edison (SCE) for its involvement in the easy fire that occurred in Simi Valley in October 2019.

California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) officials said SCE violated regulations by failing to properly and safely install and maintain its 66 kV conductor and insulator to prevent them from touching the steel pole in windy conditions.

CPUC General Order 95, Rule 31.1 requires utilities to safely and properly design and maintain their conductors and insulators.

[Want today’s Henry Hub, Houston Ship Channel and Chicago Citygate prices? Check out NGI’s daily natural gas price snapshot now.]

The Easy Fire burned 1,806 acres over a three day period in a Tier 3 High Fire Threat District. Around 26,000 Ventura County residents were evacuated. The fire broke out amid high Santa Ana winds and dry conditions that helped fuel several other fires across California and prompted Gov. Gavin Newsom to declare a state of emergency.

The CPUC also ordered fines and corrective actions against Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. and San Diego Gas and Electric Co. for their role in the Hells and has since increased scrutiny of investor-owned utilities.

SCE has 30 days to pay the fine and take corrective action or request a hearing.

In announcing third-quarter results, CEO Pedro Pizarro of parent company Edison International said the company is moving ahead with its wildfire mitigation plan. The utility is using covered conductors and is on track to complete 4,300 miles, or 43% of its overhead miles, in high fire risk areas by the end of the year.

Management also completed its quarterly review of loss estimates for the remaining 2017-2018 probable and potential wildfire and mudslide related claims. The review resulted in SCE reporting an increase in estimated $880 million in losses related to the Woolsey fire as of September 30. The deadly fire killed three people and burned some 97,000 acres of land. More than 1,600 buildings were also destroyed.

SCE also recorded expected recoveries from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission electricity tariffs of $50 million and the resulting net charge to earnings was $830 million.

SCE reported a net loss of $128 million (down 33 cents/share) for the third quarter of 2022, compared to a net loss of $341 million (down 90 cents) in the same period last year.