A new law took effect July 12 that should provide financial salvation for investor-owned utilities when they make payments to wildfire victims for wildfire losses suffered due to the utilities’ equipment. It does NOT reimburse individual victims of fires or issue insurance policies. It just covers the utilities’ fire losses from fire caused settlements or legal judgments.
The fund will total $21 Billion, with half of that coming from Southern California Edison, PG & E, and San Diego Gas & Electric. One wrinkle in PG & E’s participation is its bankruptcy. In order to join, this utility must exit bankruptcy not later than next June 30.
The remaining half would come from the state’s sale of 10.5 Billion in bonds. Some of this cost will indirectly be paid by the utilities’ ratepayers, via a charge on monthly bills. Conceivably, this could indirectly lead to some victims receiving reimbursement more quickly where lawsuits or settlements are involved, as it would give the utilities a ready source of money to make such payments from and, afterwards receive reimbursements for payments they make.
If you have losses from these wildfires, you may want to initiate discussion with the utilities or the PUC to at least get some solid information on the fund and how it affects your utility and, as a result, your loss.