Don Bauder 7:49 p.m., May 22
Do Sempra Shareholders Need Any Further Massaging?
San Diego Gas & Electric's strategy (with the California Public Utilities Commission's surreptitious concurrence) is a classic case of an American corporation raping its customers to enrich its shareholders. You can see this from information provided by Sempra Energy, SDG&E's parent. In its recent annual report, Sempra boosts of the performance of its shares. From year 2000 through 2010, Sempra stock zoomed 208%. In the same period, the Standard & Poor's 500 went up a mere 15%, while the S&P utilities index (a proxy for utilities) rose up an anemic 8%. Yet SDG&E wants its customers to pick up the tab for past and future fire costs beyond insurance coverage, rather than to have shareholders pick up that tab. Under capitalism, shareholders should pay for management incompetence, and regulators found that the 2007 fires were caused in great part by SDG&E's negligence. SDG&E and Sempra, along with commissioners of the California Public Utilities Commission, must not only explain this to San Diegans who will pay enormous sums to coddle shareholders; they must be put under oath to unearth the collusion of SDG&E and the commission.