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San Diego Gas & Electric's parent company reports millions in earnings, prompting questions about high rates

While San Diegans struggle to pay their rising electric bills, SDG&E’s parent company released their 2021 financial report showing millions in profits. KPBS reporter Tania Thorne says people are looking for answers.

Sempra Energy, the parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric, earned $1.25 billion in profits in 2021, according to its earnings report released Friday morning.

$604 million alone was earned during the last quarter of the year, just as temperatures started to drop and customers started seeing higher SDG&E bills.

SDG&E has said the rate increase came after a 25% jump in the cost of natural gas.

"The 25% increase in the wholesale price of gas doesn't seem to affect the executive salaries of SDG&E, who has 20 vice presidents all making six-figure incomes," said Kevin Kilpatrick, a California State University, San Marcos professor. "And it certainly isn't hurting the executive compensation packages for Sempra Energy, and that just enrages me."

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He is suing SDG&E for price gouging and emotional distress.

"There are hundreds of thousands of people that are in San Diego County who cannot afford price increases like that, and they have to make decisions about whether they're gonna pay the electric bill, or buy food, or even worse, buy medicine," he said.

Kilpatrick doesn't think he'll win, but he wants to be heard.

"SDG&E is causing me and hundreds of thousands of other people tremendous stress," he said. "I want that to stop. I'm doing it for everybody in San Diego."

The case is slated for April 28 at the Hall of Justice in San Diego, and Kilpatrick invites anyone angry with SDG&E's rate increase to join him.

Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath also wants answers. She said she is drafting a request to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

If approved, it "would task the State Auditor with examining the factors and decision-making, at both SDG&E and the California Public Utilities Commission, that resulted in the implementation of these rates," she said in a statement.

Boerner Horvath said San Diegans deserve to know why it costs more to power a house in San Diego than anywhere else in the country.

KPBS reached out to Sempra for comment but did not hear back.