California regulators have given the green light to continueindefinitely the three-year-old incentive gas buying program atSouthern California Gas Co., dispensing at year-end 1998 with anannual review of the program, which has even drawn praise from theusually critical Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) at theCalifornia Public Utilities Commission. The program reportedly hassaved millions of dollars for SoCalGas’ smallest customers who relyon the utility to buy their supplies. In 1998, SoCalGas reportsearning a $2 million award for its shareholders for the latest12-month operations of its so-called “Gas Cost IncentiveMechanism.” Based on benchmarked market prices if SoCalGas can dosignificantly better than the market average, resulting inquantifiable savings for its merchant customers, part of thosesavings flow back to its shareholders, who in this case are ownersof the SoCal parent, Sempra Energy. Shareholders have earned $16million in rewards through the incentive gas-purchase program overthe past three years, according to SoCalGas.

January 18, 1999