Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) figures being the largest gas utility in the US gives it the right to call itself "The Gas Company." The utility, an indirect subsidiary of Sempra Energy, distributes natural gas to 5.8 million residential, commercial, and industrial meters (20.9 million customers) in more than 500 communities throughout the southern half of California. SoCalGas owns and operates about 97,000 miles of gas distribution mains and service lines, as well as about 4,000 miles of transmission and storage pipeline. The utility also owns gas transmission compressor stations and underground storage facilities.
The company's service territory encompasses approximately 20,000 square miles from San Luis Obispo, California in the north to the Mexican border in the south, excluding San Diego County, the city of Long Beach and the desert area of San Bernardino County.
SoCalGas' revenues decreased marginally by 0.16% in 2011 due to the 8% drop in the cost of natural gas sold, caused primarily by lower natural gas prices and by a drop of $12 million in regulatory awards.
Net income marginally increased by 0.35% in 2011 as income tax expense decreased, primarily due to lower pretax book income and a lower effective tax rate.
Pushing green energy options as a means to comply with California's ambitious carbon-reduction requirements, SoCalGas has launched a program to highlight advanced solar technologies as a way to save its customers money. These include parabolic trough solar collectors and flat reflecting mirror solar collectors that focus the sun's energy on tubes that contains water. The resulting solar-heated hot water can be used to replace electricity or natural gas to power air-conditioning systems.
In 2012, to help accelerate the commercialization of new technology that uses the sun's energy rather than the electric grid or natural gas to power air-conditioning systems while co-producing renewable electricity, SoCalGas launched a multi-year demonstration of an advanced concentrated solar cogeneration system. The solar thermal technology, installed at SoCalGas' Energy Resource Center in Downey, uses mirrors and a tracking system to capture the sun's energy and focus the sunlight onto an array of photovoltaic solar collectors to produce electricity and hot water at the same time. The solar-heated hot water is used in place of electricity or natural gas to power an air conditioning process to provide 10 tons of cooling, or enough air conditioning to cool two average-sized homes.
In a separate green initiative, that year the company teamed up with Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego to design an innovative system in which algae consume carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas combustion and cost-effectively convert it into valuable byproducts such as biomethane, biodiesel and animal feed. Targeted carbon dioxide sources include natural gas power plants, large engines used in natural gas compression, and water pumping and boilers used to produce steam for industrial processes, such as enhanced oil recovery.