California’s monopoly electric utilities asked state officials to sign off on higher profits earlier this year, saying larger shareholder returns were needed to attract investors who might be scared off by the wildfire liabilities that prompted Pacific Gas & Electric to file for bankruptcy.Now regulators are poised to reject those pleas.In a proposal issued last week, staff at the California Public Utilities Commission called for keeping profit margins the same for PG&E, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. Commission staff noted that lawmakers “substantially mitigated wildfire liability exposure” when they passed Assembly Bill 1054, which could give utility companies access to billions of dollars to help pay for damage from fires ignited by their equipment.“There are no remaining significant unmitigated risks that warrant investor compensation” through a higher return on equity, commission staff wrote. Advertisement The proposed decision also calls for profit margins to remain the same at Southern California Gas, which like SDG&E is a subsidiary of San Diego-based Sempra Energy. The five-member Public Utilities Commission could vote on the staff proposal as soon as Dec. 19.The commission is supposed to allow shareholder returns no higher than is necessary to attract investment so that utilities have… Read full this story
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