San Diego Business Journal

San Diego Gas & Electric recently petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court over reimbursement of costs related to the wildfires of 2007. The utility has been rebuffed by two California courts and the California Public Utilities Commission on passing the costs on to ratepayers.

The subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE) took its petition to the Supreme Court on April 30.

“Under the legal principle of inverse condemnation, energy companies like SDG&E are held strictly liable for property damage caused by wildfires, regardless of fault, based on the rationale that these companies can spread the costs through rates,” SDG&E said in a prepared statement. “However, the [Public Utilities Commission] denied SDG&E’s ability to do so based on erroneous findings of fault. As a result, SDG&E is forced to be the insurer of last resort for wildfire damages, even when the damages occurred due to circumstances beyond our control.”

SDG&E said it believes the Public Utilities Commission and the California court decisions violate its constitutional rights. SDG&E intends to recover $379 million through rate hikes.

Two California courts and regulators ruled that the company was responsible for the wildfires, which destroyed 1,300 homes.

In other news, SDG&E asked the PUC for a rate of return and return on equity hike on April 22.