Los Angeles Times

Gas bills and high CEO pay


Re “Help for vet, rage at utility,” column, March 1, and “CEOs overpaid? Just look at the evidence,” column, March 1

Two columns that appeared in The Times on the same day — one by Michael Hiltzik, the other by Steve Lopez — graphicall­y illustrate what’s tragically wrong in our country.

When we can pay CEOs exorbitant­ly high salaries (Hiltzik), and those who have led ordinary lives have to rely on crowdsourc­ed funding to pay their natural gas bills (Lopez), there is something terribly wrong.

Add to that a bureaucrac­y that is bogged down in red tape, difficult to navigate and often inaccessib­le to many elders living without support or adequate resources, and it’s not hard to predict the result.

This is a classic case of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer. Is this what we want our country to look like?

Julia Springer

Santa Barbara

I have no problem with my old friend Jeff Martin, the chief executive of SoCalGas parent Sempra Energy, raking in $25 million in 2021. He and I both worked for the Tucson Electric Power Co. in the late 1990s before we were part of an energy startup in L.A.

I do not see gas company executives acting nefariousl­y to maximize profits, but rather working within the rules California regulators and legislator­s defined for them.

California’s natural gas system is at the end of the pipeline, and it relies on storage to balance intra-day demand. Some believe that limited gas storage reduced supply, resulting in price volatility. Cold weather added to a perfect storm.

Utilities earn a profit on their assets (pipes and wires), not the commodity they deliver. They pass through the cost of gas and power, with no motivation to minimize customer exposure to price volatility.

A solution for cushioning excessive monthly bills might be to spread out those occasional high costs over several months (or years) through utility balancing accounts rather than immediate cost recovery. Utilities could also provide rate options to fix bills by customers paying a little more for the hedge.

Bob Hoffman Redondo Beach

The column on the 102year-old Army veteran’s high gas bill hit a nerve.

I am 90 years old and on a fixed income. I keep my thermostat just below 70, the lowest I can endure because I have an autoimmune disease. My gas bill for February was $400.

I suggest looking into a class-action lawsuit against SoCalGas and Sempra. The management should have foreseen the supply and demand for utility resources, based on the informatio­n that they can access.

There is no excuse for what happened. Executives must earn their salaries. Roslyn Wolin Westlake Village

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