SD Supervisors Call For Sempra Energy Investigation
Former Sempra Executive Rudy Michelon Claims Sempra Used Ratepayer Money On Conference Center
2:47 AM, Dec 8, 2010
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors is calling for federal and state investigations to see if Sempra Energy misused ratepayer money after an investigation by 10News and the San Diego Union-Tribune revealed millions of dollars were spent on a little-used posh conference center in Mexico."We must be absolutely certain ratepayer money is protected, "said County Supervisor Dianne Jacob at a county board meeting Tuesday morning.The supervisors, led by Jacob, voted to draft a letter calling for state and federal regulators to formally investigate Sempra Energy, which owns SDG&E."It's a monument to excess and greed. This seems immoral to me," said fired Sempra executive turned whistleblower Rudy Michelon in an interview last month.In a wrongful termination suit, Michelon also claims Sempra paid bribes to Mexican officials.Michelon produced documents that revealed Sempra CEO Donald Felsinger authorized the construction of a lavish 14-bedroom executive center near Ensenada called Casa Azul. The center also included a mammoth bar, pricey furniture and even candleholders that retailed for $2,300.Michelon said the $20 million facility, which was used only by the CEO, was built in part with ratepayer money."If that's true, it's wrong and Sempra Energy needs to be held accountable," said Jacob.Jacob said a probe is needed, in light of Sempra's past, which included a massive settlement amid accusations of overcharges during the electricity crisis.In a statement, Sempra replied, "We are disappointed that she has embraced these baseless claims, but not surprised, given her history as a longtime, outspoken critic of the company."As for Michelon, the company calls him a disgruntled former employee looking for money and that his claims that Casa Azul was funded by ratepayers are outrageous.Those claims could soon come under the microscope."I think an investigation will show Sempra crossed the line. Sempra acts like they can get away with anything. These investigations, with subpoenas, may have forced them to realize they can't get away with whatever they want to do," said Dan Gilleon, Michelon's attorney.Federal and state regulations declined to comment.10News learned Michelon's attorney will meet with the supervisors later this week to discuss the case.