Sempra Energy saw a sharp drop in net income for the second quarter, $424 million, or $1.37 a share, compared to $2.39 billion, or $7.61 a share for the second quarter of 2020.
Earnings from its constituent California companies also fell. Southern California Gas’ second quarter earnings were $94 million, compared to $146 last year. San Diego Gas & Electric’s net income did not fall as much, coming in at $186 million, compared to $193 million in last year’s second quarter. Its utility in Mexico saw the largest earnings decrease of the company’s utilities: $4 million compared to $61 million last year. Sempra also saw less income because of its mid-2020 sale of businesses in Peru and Chile.
A long line of residents who live near SoCalGas underground storage facilities had a message to send the same day as the earnings release. Though not on the Aug. 5 agenda, state regulators are considering the utility’s proposal to increase gas storage levels at Aliso Canyon, a massive underground natural gas storage field the company has called its crown jewel. Aliso Canyon was the site of a massive eruption and well failure that spewed methane emissions for months beginning in October 2015. It forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and closed two schools. Protestors insisted the gas fields be permanently closed because of ongoing health and climate impacts. They also warned that CalFire concluded that Aliso Canyon was located in a high fire hazard zone and near an earthquake fault.
During its Thursday call with financial analysts, Sempra executives touted its development of renewable natural gas to supply 20% of its residential customer needs in California by 2030. The gas, which is to be derived from organic waste, including from landfills, is expected to be 5% of customers’ gas supplies next year. When asked about the demand for renewable gas compared to the push to electrify homes to decarbonize the energy system, Sempra CEO Jeff Martin said, “It is a priority of our company to be a leader in RNG and hydrogen.” He added that long-term storage with hydrogen is expected to provide “a unique opportunity” to increase market share.