LOS ANGELES (AP) — The California Public Utilities Commission has reached a proposed $37 million settlement with Southern California Edison over fallen power lines blamed for starting the October 2007 Malibu Canyon Fire.
Santa Ana winds knocked three jointly owned utility poles to the ground, sparking the fire that burned 6 square miles, destroyed dozens of structures and burned 36 vehicles. The agreement deals with the power lines that were on the poles and were owned and operated by Edison.
Of the $37 million, $20 million would be a penalty paid to California's general fund and $17 million would go to assessing pole loads and working to improve Malibu Canyon and its environs.
The commission's Safety and Enforcement Division submitted the agreement to an administrative law judge for review Monday. If the judge signs off, it will go to the California Public Utilities Commission for approval.
Under the terms, Edison admitted it violated the law by not taking action to prevent the overloading of its pole by third-party telecommunications equipment.
The company also acknowledged that one of its employees had concluded that a replacement pole didn't comply with the state regulatory agency's safety regulations for new construction. Edison should have worked to remedy the situation back in November 2007.
"SCE believes it is in the best interest of its stakeholders to resolve the dispute and move forward with the utility's principal mission of providing safe, reliable and affordable electric service," the company said in a statement. It also said funding for the settlement would come "solely from shareholders" and customer rates would not be impacted.
The proposed settlement was the third and final settlement regarding the fire. The first, approved September 2012, was for $12 million and involved AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Sprint Nextel Corp. The second settlement for $14.5 million was with Next-G Communications Inc. and is pending approval by the commission.