SDGE Will Pay US $6.4 Million for 2007 Fire Damages

San Diego Gas & Electric will pay $6.4 million to the federal government for damages in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire. The payment covers damage to federal land and federal firefighting costs. The company has paid huge sums for fire-related damage to private property and wants ratepayers, rather than shareholders of parent Sempra Energy, to cover costs of uninsured damage. That matter, which has sparked outrage in San Diego County, is still pending with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). "The settlement resolves the United States's claims for SDGE's responsibility for the fire that was caused the morning of the Oct. 21, 2007," says the U.S. Attorney's office. The key word is "responsibility." CPUC investigators blamed SDGE's negligence for the fire. The settlement, while small, appears to show that the federal government, too, believes that SDGE was responsible for sparking the blaze.

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An absolutely paltry sum. Losses of national forest resources along with other things affecting federal installations, use of US Forest Service firefighters, and a whole host of other things would add up to 'way more than $6.4 million. How about going for ten times that sum of money? The feds don't know how to do anything cheaply, and the efforts put out by the U S Forest Service had to be massively expensive. While the fire was going on I was hearing quotes of $ millions being used every day. Better than nothing I suppose, but a far cry from the losses of time, energy and treasure that went into that fight.

Agreed, Visduh. Way too low. But the federal government always lets businesses off easy -- ridiculously so. Companies sometimes spend more fighting a fine than the fine itself. The Securities and Exchange Commission recently fined the New York Stock Exchange a de minimus $5 million because the NYSE's trading data gave select clients an advantage over retail customers. This leads to split-second trading abuses, or front-running. Never mind: the NYSE got nicked for chump change. Best, Don Bauder

Does it make you feel good that if SDGE gets its way from the blatantly pro-utility California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), you as a ratepayer will pick up part of the tab for the uninsured damage that SDGE caused? Best, Don Bauder

UCAN under Shames protested -- mildly -- the SDGE attempt to get ratepayers to pay for SDGE's negligence. The current UCAN in its turmoil dislikes the deal, but doesn't appear to have the resources to fight SDGE's ripoff exhaustively. Attorney Mike Aguirre has fought the SDGE scam most intensively. Another group, Ramona's Mussey Grade Road Alliance, has done a valiant job. Best, Don Bauder

Don't forget Don Bauder.

Time was, we didn't need no stinkin' laws, we just did what was right and took our just deserts from the community (anywhere from ostracization to a necktie) like a man/woman. What we have here is a failure to maintain social mores, and we have created a monster out of the law--which lets off the biggest criminals and punishes the littlest ones. I suppose that we have no choice but to promulgate new laws, but ain't it a pity?

But if you go back in history, you see today's pattern: one set of standards for the rich and powerful, a completely different one for the poor and middle class. Look at the royal family in Britain. Look at the Robber Barons in the U.S. I've used this old poem before, but it shows that there is nothing new under the sun: "The law doth punish man or woman That steals a goose from off the common; But lets the greater felon loose That steals the common from the goose." Best, Don Bauder

Thanks for that quote, tho I suspect that some readers might not know what a common is, and perhaps not a goose. I won't say to dumb-down, but there may be some problems associated with litting-up (but don't give up--for a tiny minority of us, it brightens our spirits in the midst of this vale of tears).

There are two meanings for the word goose. The noun is a bird that resembles a duck, but is larger. The verb "to goose" describes a pinch to the behind. Best, Don Bauder

1764--anonymous folksong. Anonymity helped one keep one's head about him then, and it seems to be becoming increasingly true nowadays . . .

It shouldn't be anonymous. The acceptance of its message should be unanimous. Best, Don Bauder

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