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The Cost of Maintenance

Posted in California,Electricity Transmission by Cheryl Morgan on the September 8th, 2008

A report issued by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last week could spell major trouble for San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Cox Communications. Last year a number of major wildfires hit the San Diego area, causing widespread damage. Two people died in the fires, and 1,347 homes were destroyed. An investigation by the CPUC’s Consumer Protection & Safety Division puts the blame firmly on inadequate maintenance of transmission wires and cites both SDG&E and Cox as having been in breach of general orders covering required levels of safety. The full report is available from the CPUC web site, and the San Diego Union-Tribune has detailed reports here and here.

SDG&E and Cox are, of course, denying any wrong-doing, and may yet be proved innocent. However, the cost of dealing with the case is still likely to be enormous. There are clear risk management lessons here for other utilities.

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