Questions on SDG&E: Which Council Members Voted for Contract? Who’s the CPUC? How Much Do SDG&E Execs Make?

by on February 9, 2022 · 2 comments

in California, Energy, San Diego

Someone San Diegans should know: Sempra CEO Jeffrey Martin

With heartburn coming to San Diegans in every bill from SDG&E, and with the confirmation that for some reason San Diegans pay the highest electricity rates in the country, numerous questions have been raised about all of this. For instance.

Which San Diego city council members voted for the SDG&E contract for 10 years, a contract pushed by Mayor Todd Gloria?

If the California Public Utilities Commission approves and sets rates, just who are they?

And just how much do the execs of SDG&E and its owner Sempra make?

The answer to the first is quick and easy; San Diego City Councilmembers who voted for the contract with SDG&E were:

  • Jennifer Campbell,
  • Stephen Whitburn,
  • Chris Cate,
  • Raul Campillo,
  • Marni von Wilpert and
  • Sean Elo-Rivera

Councilmembers who opposed the deal include Joe LaCava, Vivian Moreno and Monica Montgomery Steppe.

Okay, just who is on the California Public Utilities Commission – the board that sets rates?

Every three years, SDG&E presents its case for rate increases in a series of public hearings and the CPUC votes on the proposed increases.

Our local CBS 8 station has been on top of these issues. Recently it quoted former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre about the CPUC and how its board members operate. Now in private practice (and still filing suites – Chargers anyone?), Aguirre stated:

“They’re located in Northern California. They’re appointed by the Governor. And they’re heavily influenced by the utilities. Most every member of the Public Utilities Commission, including the current president, come out of the Governor’s office and have a background in politics.”

“Our bills are basically set in meetings that most San Diegans have no real opportunity to influence in San Francisco or Sacramento.”

So, here are more details:

  • Four of the five CPUC board members were appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
  • None of them live in San Diego, where SDG&E rates are the highest in the state / and nation.
  • Records show SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra Energy, donated more than $29,000 to Newsom’s campaign when he ran for governor in 2018.
  • Newsom appointed Alice Busching Reynolds, 55, president of the CPUC in November 2021. She makes a base salary of $228,000 and lives in Sacramento. Her email is alice.reynolds@cpuc.ca.gov.
  • In December, Newsom appointed John Reynolds, 38, to the CPUC board.  He makes a $174,000 base salary and lives in Oakland. His email is john.reynolds@cpuc.ca.gov.
  • In February of 2021, Newsom appointed Darcie Houck,; she makes a $159,000 base salary and lives in Davis, California. Her email is darcie.houck@cpuc.ca.gov.
  • In 2019, Newsom appointed Genevieve Shiroma, 66, of Sacramento to the board.  She makes a $153,000 base salary. Her email is GSH@cpuc.ca.gov.
  • Governor Brown appointed Clifford Rechtschaffen, 64, to the board in 2017. He lives in Oakland, according to real estate records, and made $142,000 base salary in 2020. His email is cr6@cpuc.ca.gov.

More from Aguirre:

“Utilities meet in secret in ex parte meetings with commissioners and their staff, and they line them up with whatever it is that the utilities are asking for, for rate increases.

The rates are going to wake up people, and I think there’s going to be a backlash.  And hopefully we can guide that along constructive channels to get the rates down to affordable levels.”

Aguirre advises that the best thing to do is to “call your legislator, call your local Assembly person, send an email to them, go down and visit them and say look, we need you to do a better job of policing the Public Utilities Commission and their failure to keep rates at a reasonable level.”

CBS8 also looked at the salaries and compensation for SDG&E and Sempra execs. Here’s what they found:

  • CEO Jeffrey W. Martin is the top man at San Diego Gas & Electric’s parent company, Sempra Energy. He made more than $23 million in total compensation in 2020 (the latest year where salary information is available in Sempra’s public SEC filings).  Martin’s compensation included $1.3 million in base salary, $3.7 million in cash bonuses, and $10.5 million in pension earnings. Martin has a couple emails: jmartin@sempra.com or jwmartin@sempraglobal.com.
  • When it comes to SDG&E’s CEO, Caroline Winn, her compensation numbers are harder to find because employee names are redacted in a 2020 compensation filing with the CPUC.  Winn is the chief executive officer at SDG&E. According to the redacted CPUC filings, the highest paid “executive officer” at SDG&E earned $10 million in total compensation in 2020. Winn’s email is: cwinn@semprautilities.com.
  • Compensation information for SDG&E’s President and Chief Financial Officer, Bruce Folkmann, is equally hard to come by online. He earned more than $1 million in total compensation in 2019, according to SEC filings, when he worked for the Sempra-owned Southern Califorina Gas Company, and later that year, for SDG&E. Folkmann’s email is bfolkmann@semprautilities.com.

When CBS 8 asked SDG&E for total compensation numbers for both Winn and Folkmann, their spokesperson emailed the station the following statement instead:

“California Senate Bill 901, signed by Gov Jerry Brown, 2018, and codified in PUC Code, prohibits electrical and gas corporations from using ratepayer dollars for executive compensation. Compensation is instead funded solely by shareholders. We appreciate you reaching out and have nothing further to add.”

Edward Lopez, the executive director of the Utility Consumers’ Action Network in San Diego, had much to add.

“UCAN certainly believes that Sempra executive compensation levels are out of wack.”

“Sempra takes those profits and that certainly drives compensation for the Sempra executives.”

“You don’t have complete information. You might find it, ironically, for the Sempra executive leaders. But we’re having a challenge and why isn’t the CPUC more forthcoming in terms of what these SDG&E leaders are earning?”

Lastly, if you’d like to give your feedback to SDG&E, you can do so by CLICKING HERE. If you’d like to file a complaint with CPUC, click here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

bobo February 9, 2022 at 2:07 pm

The commissioners who sit on the CPUC are derelect in their duty. Their primary focus is to ensure “that consumers have safe, reliable utility service at reasonable rates, protecting against fraud, and promoting the health of California’s economy.”. Note that “CONSUMERS” is at the top of the list. They SHOULD be focused on the consumer side and not the utility side that they’re supposed to regulate.
1. Rather than a political appointment, they should be elected
2. A utility that provides water, energy transportation, and telecom should be not-for-profit.

That a for-profit entity providing basic services like these (on which our entire economy relies) is an outdated, 19th century/robber barren concept. This structure is set up to screw consumers. Take the profit incentive out of these industries and dare I say: socialize them.

The MAGAs & libertarians that read this can reply to the triggering they just got from the word socialism below. Enjoy!

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Yournotinkansasanymore February 10, 2022 at 10:20 am

As someone who believes that SDGE and their supporting corrupt government bureaucracies are evil, I make the point: Ignore and face the consequences or make an effort to take the anger and organize around it. Folks will soon find out how bad it will get.

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