Defeat of Sempra Boondoggle Saves Customers $621 million.

Sempra, the parent company of SoCal Gas and SDG&E, wanted to build a new pipeline, ostensibly to assure reliable supplies to southern California gas customers and keep gas-fired power plants running. The pipeline would have run from Adelanto to Moreno Valley, through the San Bernardino National Forest. As always, Sempra wanted consumers to pay for the project, a planned capital investment of about $620 million with guaranteed returns, courtesy of SoCal Gas and SDG&E customers.

TURN and our allies at the Office of Ratepayer Advocates and the Southern California Generation Coalition smelled a rat, and protested the proposal, because Sempra had failed to show why the project was needed, and because Sempra could adopt much cheaper operational measures to ensure adequate gas supplies during critical times. In fact, TURN’s analysis determined that at the end of the day the pipeline would be a $620 million boondoggle.

According to TURN staff attorney Marcel Hawiger, “the proposed pipeline would have been a compete waste of money.” Hawiger made TURN’s case at the CPUC, arguing that less costly solutions were available, and an administrative law judge ruled that Sempra could not squander customers’ money on the expensive and unwarranted pipeline.

Sempra, accustomed to getting its way, lobbied the Commission to ignore the judge’s decision and rule more favorably, but for once the CPUC did not relent. All five Commissioners voted thumbs down on the project.

“Too often, SDG&E, SoCal Gas, PGE and Edison try to use our fears of fires, explosions and blackouts to justify unjustified rate hikes,” Hawiger said. “TURN and our allies have to look beyond those claims to protect you from being gouged for wasteful expenditures like this one.”