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U.S. Gas Utility Ordered to Return Cash Used in Climate Lobbying

  • California PUC judge orders SoCalGas to refund customer money
  • SoCalGas advocated against energy-efficiency standards
pipeline lng gas
Photographer: Paco Serinelli/AFP/Getty Images

California regulators ruled that Sempra Energy’s Southern California Gas misused customer money to lobby against energy-efficiency standards, and ordered the utility to refund those amounts to ratepayers.

SoCalGas, the largest natural gas distributor in the U.S., used customer funds for several years to advocate against stricter state energy codes that would have curbed natural gas use, according to a preliminary decision filed Wednesday by an administrative law judge at the California Public Utilities Commission. The judge also found that SoCalGas used ratepayer money to fight against proposals by cities to limit gas use in buildings.