Southern California Gas Company Evades the Call to Testify Before Senate Energy Committee in Tuesday’s Oversight Hearing

March 1, 2023

SACRAMENTO –  One hour into the Senate Energy Committee PUC Oversight hearing, Senator Stern was dismayed to hear that SoCalGas would not be taking the stand to testify while ratepayers are left reeling with gas bills up to 300% higher than usual. The last minute change to their scheduled appearance reflects the same lack of transparency that the company has exhibited as it blindsided everyday families over the last few months with soaring utility bills.

“SoCalGas has a lot to answer for, which is why it didn’t show today,” said Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog. “It needs to answer about who made a fortune off its failure to use its stored gas inventories and decision to buy on the astronomically priced spot market at its peak. If SoCalGas’s parent company SEMPRA’s trading arm was the beneficiary of its mismanagement and decision to buy on the spot market at its height then someone could be going to jail."

Avoiding this important opportunity to preemptively answer the legislature’s hard questions about ratepayer protections is not a good sign as we move toward next week’s Senate Energy Oversight Hearing particularly on the issue of natural gas price spikes.  

“The cost of the recent natural gas price spikes were borne not by Sempra’s top executives, who made over $100 million in 2021 alone, but by a lot of hard working individuals just trying to get by.  We need to fix the immediate crisis, and a fifty dollar climate credit or a one million charitable contribution from SoCalGas won't offset the hit family budgets just took,” said Senator Stern. 

Senator Stern has introduced SB 572 to strengthen the hand of state regulators and avert price spikes or windfall profits in the future. Stern’s legislative proposal would build on a long term gas planning proceeding the CPUC undertook last year to ensure that in addition to any immediate investigation, the Commission would focus on avoiding asset stranding, and examine structural protections against ratepayer price shocks in the future.