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This just in from the Division of Ratepayer Advocates

DRA Finds SoCalGas’ Cost of Capital Request Out of Line with Market and Unfair to Customers

Posted: August 7, 2012 12:30 p.m.
Updated: August 7, 2012 12:30 p.m.
 

 

SAN FRANCISCO, August 7, 2012 – The Division of Ratepayer Advocates (DRA), the independent consumer advocate within the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), on Monday presented evidence in the CPUC’s proceeding on Cost of Capital, finding that Southern California Gas Company’s (SoCalGas) request for an 10.9% Return on Equity far exceeds both the company’s revenue needs and market standards.

DRA recommends that the appropriate Return on Equity (“ROE,” or the revenue that shareholders can expect to earn on their investment) should be 8.5%, which would result in a $60 million annual savings to SoCalGas’ customers.

In April 2012, SoCalGas submitted its request to the CPUC to increase its ROE from 10.82% to 10.9%. The CPUC’s Cost of Capital proceeding will determine the ROE that SoCalGas can earn, ultimately impacting its Rate of Return. However, DRA’s analysis finds that SoCalGas’ requested ROE is too high by today’s market conditions, given that interest rates are currently at low levels and cost of capital rates have significantly declined since the CPUC’s last Cost of Capital proceeding in 2007.

DRA’s conclusions are based on three financial models used to compute ROE, using current interest rates, risk premium, and reasonable growth forecasts. Even a nationwide market analysis comparing SoCalGas’ request to eight gas utilities demonstrates that SoCalGas’ ROE request of 10.9% far exceeds the median ROE of 9.3% of the eight comparable investor owned utilities.

“While DRA does not object to SoCalGas’ proposed capital structure or forecasted cost of long-term debt, it is unwarranted for SoCalGas to charge its customers a Rate of Return for its investors that is out of line with the current market conditions,” said Joe Como, DRA’s acting director. “SoCalGas should be passing those tens of millions of dollars in savings onto its customers.”

The CPUC has consolidated the Cost of Capital proceeding across the state’s four largest investor owned utilities. The CPUC will hold evidentiary hearings in the Cost of Capital case in September 2012, and it is expected to issue its final decision by the end of the year.

For more information on DRA, please visit www.dra.ca.gov.

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