Fitch Ratings removed its Watch Negative advisory on San Diego-based Sempra Energy (SRE) on downgrading Sempra Energy equity and debt by one notch. Fitch Ratings also imposed a Rating Outlook of Negative on SRE. A full list of downgrades may be found at the Fitch Ratings link above.

The SRE equity and debt downgrade comes in the same week as a former Sempra Mexico senior financial officer sued for wrongful termination after he questioned the construction of a luxury beachfront unit allegedly at the direction of Sempra Energy's Don Felsinger, chairman and chief executive officer. The fired Sempra whistle-blower also alleged that he was directed to make payments to Mexican officials that amounted to corporate bribes. An internal Sempra review found no wrongdoing, as expected at this stage in the legal process. Sempra was previously sued in San Diego by a Mexican national in connection with the same Energia Costa Azul natural gas project, alleging false imprisonment and illegal eviction from the rancher's property near the Sempra project.

Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas and Electricity Company is currently scrambling to meet 2010 state alternative energy mandates at the 20 percent level by the end of the year. Several new solar farm construction contracts have been signed by SDG&E and other Sempra Energy units, and will most likely be claimed for meeting the state mandate, despite the lack of California Public Utilities Commission permits for those projects and their likely completion years after the 2010 deadline has passed.

Next Up (barring other breaking news): Former San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre demands to see all SDG&E, Pacific Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison expenditures on research to be presented to CPUC regarding the A0908020 Wildfire Expense Balancing Account (WEBA) as to possible utility efforts to limit testimony and other discovery to utilities' advantage during the A0908020 proceedings. Stay tuned in...


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