Econometer: Who Should Pay for Wildfires?

Econometer: Who Should Pay for Wildfires?

Phillip Molnar | The San Diego Union-Tribune

Union-Tribune staff writer Rob Nikolewski wrote an article last week about an academic report that questioned if public utilities were unfairly bearing the burden of the cost of wildfires. The report from Wharton Risk Management and Decision Process Center considered the blame received by companies after high-risk areas go up in smoke, even if they are doing everything to the highest safety standards.

Question: Should utility companies be held liable for fire damages linked to their equipment even if those companies followed accepted safety procedures?

Phil Blair, Manpower

NO: Private firms have only so much protection from Mother Nature and reckless humans. As long as utilities take proper protections to prevent calamities then the fires are a result of nature and losses should be covered by insurance.

Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research

NO: Balance between “public benefit” of electric infrastructure and reasonable actions maintaining those services should be considered. Assigning blame to pervasive wildland fires inflicting California has myriad causes in the resulting massive damages. “Inverse condemnation” should not make utilities liable to maintain equipment beyond reasonable levels of safe operation. Homeowners choosing to live in the backcountry bear most of the responsibility for fire insurance to cover losses, risks should not be subsidized by utility ratepayers…(Read the full story)

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