SoCalGas agrees to pay 1.8 billion USD for biggest gas leak in U.S. history
Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) announced agreements that are expected to resolve substantially all material civil litigation against SoCalGas related to the 2015 Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility leak. As a result of the agreements, SoCalGas will record an after tax charge of approximately $1.1 billion this month. Settlement costs will not be borne by ratepayers.
The first agreement is subject to obtaining roughly 97% participation among approximately 36,000 individual plaintiffs and court approval of the settlement allocation process, among other conditions. The second and third agreements involve settlement with a class estimated to include at least 23,000 properties and the dismissal of the named plaintiffs in a putative business class action, both of which are subject to court approval.
In July 2017, state regulators cleared SoCalGas to resume injections at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility. In accordance with new state regulations, SoCalGas has enhanced the operational safety and reliability of the facility. At the state's direction, the field is being operated at a reduced pressure, providing an additional margin of safety.
SoCalGas previously entered into a settlement agreement with the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, the County of Los Angeles, the California Office of the Attorney General, and the California Air Resources Board to resolve all outstanding claims by those government bodies against the company related to the leak.
SoCalGas, headquartered in Los Angeles, is the primary provider of natural gas to Southern California and the nation's largest gas distribution utility. ■