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SoCal Edison Shares California Utility Wildfire Concerns

Executives with Edison International’s (EI) Southern California Edison (SCE) on Thursday voiced similar deep concerns about the need for a political and economic solution to California's wildfire liability crisis that for the most part is centered on the state's major power utilities.

EI CEO Pedro Pizarro said legislative actions are needed this year to provide relief from California's strict liability penalties, lessen skyrocketing fire insurance rates, and provide utilities with the chance to cover fired-related expenses in utility rates. His comments mirrored some by PG&E Corp. executives during the 2Q2018 conference call.

While Pizarro would not speculate on when the ongoing investigations would be completed of last fall's Thomas Fire and others that ravaged Southern California, he stressed SCE fire mitigation/prevention efforts were moving forward.

The efforts are concentrating on five major areas: increased patrolling and stepped up vegetation management; increased fire-resistent poles and other infrastructure; improved operating practices; partnerships with community and fire groups; and more emergency operations centers and weather stations in its service territory.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday declared states of emergency in three separate counties because of ongoing wildfires in Mariposa, Riverside and Shasta Counties.

Like his counterparts at PG&E, Pizarro said Edison executives "continue to be encouraged by the dialogue California utilities are having with members of the state legislature." He cited state Senate Bill (SB) 901, an amended bill that established the conference committee from both houses that is now wrestling with multiple wildfire relief proposals.

"While SB 901 is the focus of the committee, other bills can be considered," Pizarro said.

For 2Q2018, Pizarro said EI reported net income of $276 million (85 cents/share), compared with net income of $278 million (85 cents) for the second quarter last year.

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