Southern California Edison has reached agreements in principle to settle the claims asserted by 23 public entities impacted by the 2017 Thomas and Koenigstein fires, the 2018 Montecito debris flow and the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
Under the settlements, payments totaling $360 million will be made to the public entities for damages alleged to have been caused by the fires and debris flows, with $150 million allocated to the 2017 fire and 2018 debris flow events. The remaining $210 million will be allocated to the 2018 Woolsey Fire.
“The agreements are a compromise reached by SCE and the public entities to resolve the public entities’ claims, and no admission of wrongdoing or liability was made in reaching those agreements,” Edison officials said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the city of Santa Barbara announced it will receive a $6.7 million as part of the $360 million settlement. Three county entities – the County of Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County Flood Control and Santa Barbara County Fire Protection District – will receive about $28.5 million, said Mike Ghizzoni, county counsel.
In addition, the city is receiving a $23.9 million settlement set aside for FEMA or OES reimbursement of pending city claims, with the county receiving between $22 and $27 million for reimbursement of pending claims.
The settlement covers lost property, lost revenues, unplanned expenditures, and lost community assets – such as environmental and recreational resources, and government infrastructure. The settlement does not affect the claims of residents, individuals, or businesses affected by the fires.
“We are pleased to reach agreements to resolve the claims brought by local government entities related to the 2017 and 2018 events,” Pedro J. Pizarro, president and CEO of Edison International, the parent company of SCE, said in a statement. “We look forward to engaging with other parties who have a similar interest in good faith settlement efforts. We also will continue to make substantial investments in our system and enhance our operational practices to reduce the risk of wildfires in our service area and safely provide power to homes and businesses.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Mayor Cathy Murillo said the Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow – which left 23 people dead – were “unprecedented events” that resulted in the loss of life and local economic impacts.
“This money will cover the City’s losses related to public assets and services, offsetting City taxpayer resources.”