News and analysis about energy in California with an eye toward renewables.

California Home To Three of Ten Highest-Paid Utility Execs

According to a ranking published today by energy trade publication Fierce Energy, the Chief Executive Officers of California's three largest investor-owned utilities are among the ten highest-paid utility company executives in the United States.

The CEOs of Sempra Energy (owner of San Diego Gas and Electric,) Pacific Gas & Electric, and Edison International (parent company of Southern California Edison) came in at 9, 7,and 5, respectively on Fierce Energy's listing.

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According to Fierce Energy, the ranking was calculated based on publicly available Securities and Exchange Commission filings, and included salaries, stocks, options, and other incentives.

San Diego-based Sempra Energy's Debra L. Reed was the ninth-highest paid utility CEO, with a base 2011 salary of $811,907, which with other compensation amounted to a total take-home of $8,179,678. Reed took the job in mid-2011, succeeding Donald Felsinger who still remains as Sempra's Chairman of the Board. Sempra owns San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), as well as a number of power generating and transmission facilities in far southern California and northern Baja California. Reed also serves on the board of directors of Halliburton.

In the number 7 spot is Anthony F. Earley, Jr., Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Northern California's Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). Earley took home $378,788 in base salary and $9,541,387 in total compensation. Not bad, considering he took the job in September.

The fifth-highest paid utility CEO in the U.S. heads up Rosemead-based Edison International, parent of Southern California Edison. Theodore F. Craver Jr., Edison's Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, earned a total of $10,843,523 in 2011, of which $1,142,115 was salary. Craver's base salary was increased by $100,000 from 2010 to 2011.

Who took the top spot? That would be FirstEnergy's President and CEO Anthony J. Alexander, who pocketed $18,328,895 total compensation last year, of which $1,340,000 was salary. FirstEnergy has more than six million customers in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey.

For perspective, the amount of pay California's three top utility execs took home in 2011 would pay for somewhere around six or seven megawatts of rooftop solar in Los Angeles, at retail prices. That's about 1,300 small household arrays, which could save the homeowners as much as $1.5 million a year, all together. But then how would the utilities pay their CEOs?

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About the Author

Chris Clarke is a natural history writer and environmental journalist currently at work on a book about the Joshua tree. He lives in Joshua Tree.
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