Company's Rate Request Submitted to California Public Utilities Commission
LOS ANGELES, May 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- To provide reliable and safe gas delivery to the company's 22 million residential and commercial consumers and to support a reliable, resilient and increasingly interdependent and clean gas and electric energy system, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) submitted its 2024-2027 General Rate Case (GRC) yesterday to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), as required by law. The application is SoCalGas' forecast of infrastructure investments that support innovation as well as costs for essential operation and maintenance of the gas system and will support SoCalGas' ongoing efforts to build the cleanest, safest and most innovative energy company in America.
"SoCalGas files this GRC during a time of transformative change," said SoCalGas President Maryam Brown. "Events in California and around the world have shown us that maintaining the safety, reliability, and affordability of our local energy systems remain critically important. Our rate request is the blueprint for how we can continue to support safe, affordable and reliable energy while we invest to accelerate California's clean energy transition."
Following a rigorous analysis of risks and needs, SoCalGas' general rate case filing is a projection of what it will cost the company to operate, maintain, and upgrade its system in 2024 to continue the safe and reliable delivery of energy to its customers. Rates for the subsequent three years will depend on formulas to be approved by the CPUC.
If approved by the CPUC, the critical investments proposed in this rate request are estimated to increase average residential customer bills by approximately $8.60 per month in 2024 when compared to 2023.
"Customers today face rising costs for many essentials they need, including energy, and there is never a good time to ask customers to pay more. Every dollar we ask customers to pay will result in long-term benefits for future generations," Brown said. "This proposal represents the conscientious efforts of hundreds of SoCalGas employees to find the balance between managing costs and making the infrastructure investments that are essential to California's clean energy future."
According to the latest American Gas Association survey of peer companies, SoCalGas was among the lowest average gas bills in the nation.
SoCalGas' 2024-2027 rate request includes investments in four key areas: maintaining and enhancing reliability and safety, supporting sustainability, and promoting innovation and technology to meet operational and customer needs and workforce development.
Enhancing Safety and Reliability
Safety and reliability are cornerstones of SoCalGas' business and operations. Approximately 97% of capital expenditures and the majority of operations and maintenance expenditures in the proposal would be dedicated to support safety, reliability, and maintenance measures. Major investments include: SoCalGas' Gas Integrity Management Programs, which identify, evaluate and reduce integrity risks for the gas system and the company's Safety Management System, a comprehensive system designed to protect employee and contractor safety, customer and public safety, and the safety of the Company's gas system.
This rate request marks the first by SoCalGas to include sustainability, alongside safety and reliability, as one of the driving forces to support investments. This is consistent with SoCalGas' ASPIRE 2045 Sustainability Strategy. SoCalGas' ASPIRE 2045 Sustainability Strategy is a holistic and broad environmental, social, and governance strategy that includes SoCalGas' industry leading aspiration to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.
Brown continued, "ASPIRE 2045's success will require public policy support and alignment. It is designed to have, and is already having, a positive impact on the communities we serve and strengthening business outcomes that benefit both our customers and the energy infrastructure of the future."
Accelerating the transition to increasingly cleaner energy will require investment in activities that produce immediate and near-term emissions reductions such as renewable natural gas and modernized electric fleets, and that also lay the groundwork for deeper systemwide decarbonization over the long-term (e.g., hydrogen pilots).
Promoting Innovation and Technology
SoCalGas' rate request promotes new innovations and technology to meet customers' evolving needs. Proposed investments to modernize the company's Customer Information System platform, for example, are aimed at improving the customer service experience.
In addition, SoCalGas' proposal includes investments to maintain a strong cybersecurity program, a critical need today and going forward, to protect critical information and sensitive customer data.
Developing our Workforce
Skilled employees are essential to providing safe and reliable service to customers and for helping the company meet its sustainability goals. SoCalGas' employee training, workforce planning, and total rewards programs are structured to attract and maintain a high-performing workforce.
General Rate Case Process
SoCalGas and other investor-owned utilities in California file General Rate Case applications with the CPUC every four years. The CPUC oversees the proceedings, which include numerous regulatory and public hearings with testimony from ratepayer advocates, environmental groups, and others. The general rate request process is scheduled to take between 18 months and two years and is expected to conclude in late 2023.
More information about SoCalGas' General Rate Request can be found at http://socalgas.com/rates.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, and increasingly renewable gas service to 21.8 million consumers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California. Gas delivered through the company's pipelines will continue to play a key role in California's clean energy transition—providing electric grid reliability and supporting wind and solar energy deployment.
SoCalGas' mission is to build the cleanest, safest and most innovative energy company in America. In support of that mission, SoCalGas aspires to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its operations and delivery of energy by 2045 and to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply to core customers with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by dairy farms, landfills, and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its gas delivery infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for customers. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego.
This press release contains statements that constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are based on assumptions with respect to the future, involve risks and uncertainties, and are not guarantees. Future results may differ materially from those expressed in any forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements represent our estimates and assumptions only as of the date of this press release. We assume no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement as a result of new information, future events or other factors.
In this press release, forward-looking statements can be identified by words such as "believes," "expects," "intends," "anticipates," "plans," "estimates," "projects," "forecasts," "should," "could," "would," "will," "confident," "may," "can," "potential," "possible," "proposed," "in process," "under construction," "in development," "opportunity," "target," "outlook," "maintain," "continue," "goal," "aim," "commit," or similar expressions, or when we discuss our guidance, priorities, strategy, goals, vision, mission, opportunities, projections, intentions or expectations.
Factors, among others, that could cause actual results and events to differ materially from those described in any forward-looking statements include risks and uncertainties relating to: California wildfires, including the risks that we may be found liable for damages regardless of fault and that we may not be able to recover all or a substantial portion of costs from insurance, the wildfire fund established by California Assembly Bill 1054, in rates from customers or a combination thereof; decisions, investigations, regulations, issuances or revocations of permits and other authorizations, renewals of franchises, and other actions by (i) the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), Comisión Reguladora de Energía, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Public Utility Commission of Texas, and other regulatory and governmental bodies and (ii) states, counties, cities and other jurisdictions in the U.S., Mexico and other countries in which we do business; the success of business development efforts, construction projects and acquisitions and divestitures, including risks in (i) the ability to make a final investment decision, (ii) completing construction projects or other transactions on schedule and budget, (iii) the ability to realize anticipated benefits from any of these efforts if completed, and (iv) obtaining the consent or approval of partners or other third parties, including governmental entities and regulatory bodies; the resolution of civil and criminal litigation, regulatory inquiries, investigations and proceedings, arbitrations, and property disputes, including those related to the natural gas leak at Southern California Gas Company's (SoCalGas) Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility; changes to laws, including changes to certain of Mexico's laws and rules that impact energy supplier permitting, energy contract rates, the electricity industry generally and the ability to import, export, transport and store hydrocarbons; cybersecurity threats, including by state and state-sponsored actors, to the energy grid, storage and pipeline infrastructure, information and systems used to operate our businesses, and confidentiality of our proprietary information and personal information of our customers and employees, including ransomware attacks on our systems and the systems of third-party vendors and other parties with which we conduct business, all of which have become more pronounced due to recent geopolitical events and other uncertainties, such as the war in Ukraine; failure of foreign governments and state-owned entities to honor their contracts and commitments; actions by credit rating agencies to downgrade our credit ratings or to place those ratings on negative outlook and our ability to borrow on favorable terms and meet our debt service obligations; the impact of energy and climate policies, legislation, rulemaking and disclosures, as well as related goals set and actions taken by companies in our industry, including actions to reduce or eliminate reliance on natural gas generally and any deterioration of or increased uncertainty in the political or regulatory environment for California natural gas distribution companies and the risk of nonrecovery for stranded assets; the pace of the development and adoption of new technologies in the energy sector, including those designed to support governmental and private party energy and climate goals, and our ability to timely and economically incorporate them into our business; weather, natural disasters, pandemics, accidents, equipment failures, explosions, acts of terrorism, information system outages or other events that disrupt our operations, damage our facilities and systems, cause the release of harmful materials, cause fires or subject us to liability for property damage or personal injuries, fines and penalties, some of which may not be covered by insurance, may be disputed by insurers or may otherwise not be recoverable through regulatory mechanisms or may impact our ability to obtain satisfactory levels of affordable insurance; the availability of electric power and natural gas and natural gas storage capacity, including disruptions caused by failures in the transmission grid or limitations on the withdrawal of natural gas from storage facilities; the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including potential vaccination mandates, on capital projects, regulatory approvals and the execution of our operations; the impact at San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E) on competitive customer rates and reliability due to the growth in distributed and local power generation, including from departing retail load resulting from customers transferring to Community Choice Aggregation and Direct Access, and the risk of nonrecovery for stranded assets and contractual obligations; Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC's (Oncor) ability to eliminate or reduce its quarterly dividends due to regulatory and governance requirements and commitments, including by actions of Oncor's independent directors or a minority member director; volatility in foreign currency exchange, inflation and interest rates and commodity prices, including inflationary pressures in the U.S., and our ability to effectively hedge these risks and with respect to inflation and interest rates, the impact on SDG&E's and SoCalGas' cost of capital and the affordability of customer rates; changes in tax and trade policies, laws and regulations, including tariffs, revisions to international trade agreements and sanctions, such as those that have been imposed and that may be imposed in the future in connection with the war in Ukraine, which may increase our costs, reduce our competitiveness, impact our ability to do business with certain current or potential counterparties, or impair our ability to resolve trade disputes; and other uncertainties, some of which may be difficult to predict and are beyond our control.
These risks and uncertainties are further discussed in the reports that Sempra has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). These reports are available through the EDGAR system free-of-charge on the SEC's website, www.sec.gov, and on Sempra's website, www.sempra.com. Investors should not rely unduly on any forward-looking statements.
Sempra Infrastructure, Sempra Texas, Sempra Texas Utilities, Oncor and Infraestructura Energética Nova, S.A.P.I. de C.V. (IEnova) are not the same companies as the California utilities, SDG&E or SoCalGas, and Sempra Infrastructure, Sempra Texas, Sempra Texas Utilities, Oncor and IEnova are not regulated by the CPUC.
SOURCE Southern California Gas Company