The Morning Report
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I just got a call from a Stephanie Donovan, a spokeswoman for SDG&E. This morning, City Attorney Mike Aguirre announced that he had filed a complaint against the energy company alleging that negligence by SDG&E caused two massive wildfires in San Diego last year.
Donovan said the lawsuit was not unexpected. She said the company has known for about a month that there was a suit coming down the line from the city.
I asked her about the claim made in the city’s complaint that SDG&E’s negligence in maintaining its equipment resulted in the two wildfires.
“We operate and maintain our system in compliance with federal and state requirements,” Donovan said. “History has shown that power lines have been involved in only maybe two to three percent of the wildfires in all of California, according to CalFire statistics for the last five or six years.”
“Anybody can file a lawsuit and say anything in the lawsuit. It doesn’t make it true,” she added.
Donovan said it’s not surprising, therefore, that SDG&E has been named in several lawsuits. Aguirre said this morning that the company has also been the subject of several lawsuits filed by homeowners in the county.
“It’s unfortunate that in these kinds of cases, given the litigious society that we have, that there are a number of individuals, including the city attorney now, who have filed lawsuits related to the fires,” Donovan said.
Was she saying Aguirre had filed a frivolous lawsuit? I asked.
“We believe that there are many things that contributed to cause the fires, including the hot dry weather and the extremely high Santa Ana winds,” she said.
“There’s really no electrical power system probably across the country that can be protected 100 percent of the time, especially from extreme weather conditions such as we had last fall,” she added.
Lastly, I asked Donovan about Aguirre’s claim that SDG&E has a $1 billion insurance policy that the city aims to tap into with its claim for damages.
Donovan confirmed that the company does have about $1 billion in insurance, which she said the company believes would be adequate to cover any damages that might result from the wildfire-related lawsuits.