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California Power Company Misleads Regulators in Proposal for Unprecedented Rate Hike, Profit Margin

Public Citizen and TURN Urge FERC to Say No

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should reject Southern California Edison Company’s (SCE) demands for an unprecedented rate hike, because it is based on misleading claims about the company’s potential liabilities for California wildfires, Public Citizen and The Utility Reform Network (TURN) said in a complaint filed today.

SCE is requesting that households and other ratepayers guarantee the company a 17.12% rate of return because, the utility claims, it needs an astronomical profit margin to overcome liabilities it faces from climate-change induced wildfires. But SCE would face significant financial liabilities for California wildfires only if a court found the company had acted negligently, for example, by failing to properly maintain equipment. The 17.12% rate of return is therefore unneeded.

Public Citizen and TURN argue in today’s FERC complaint that ratepayers should not be on the hook for SCE’s malfeasance. In any event, because California regulators are actively evaluating these issues, FERC should reject SCE’s unprecedented rate hike and allow the state of California to finish its work.

“California’s hardworking families cannot afford to pay this outlandish and unprecedented rate hike,” said Tyson Slocum, energy program director for Public Citizen and co-author of the complaint. “California regulators – not FERC – are in the best position to evaluate the utility’s liabilities and obligations concerning wildfire risks. Southern California Edison’s shareholders are not entitled to profit margins in excess of 17%.”