SAN DIEGO — Thomas A. Page, San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s chairman, president and chief executive, was given a 21.2% pay raise in 1984, to $348,750, according to the company's proxy statement. But under state regulatory limits, the utility's customers had to pay only 3.3% of the increase.
Shareholders therefore bore most of the pay increase in 1984, a year when the utility's earnings per share dropped to $3.01 from $3.20 in 1983 because of a $45.1-million fine levied by state regulators last December.
Page's salary has risen about 56% in the last two years. Three other SDG&E executives received pay boosts of 20% to 26.3% in 1984, according to the proxy, which was received by SDG&E shareholders Wednesday.
Because proxy materials include salaries only for the prior year, pay schedules for 1985 will not be known until next year.
Announcement of the pay increases follows by three weeks the release of a report showing SDG&E with the highest energy rate increases--nearly 435%--of any major utility between 1972 and 1983.
The utility since then has reached "rate stabilization," Page has insisted.
He and other SDG&E executives have called 1984 a "benchmark year" for the utility because of its strong stock performance, record revenue and increased operating earnings.
Industry analysts credit Page and his current management staff, which is fashioning a new plan to diversify into non-utility ventures, with reversing SDG&E's financial malaise of the early 1980s and recapturing the utility's A bond rating.
"We think the shareholders are getting what they pay for," said SDG&E spokesman Dave Smith.
"The executives, particularly Page, have turned the company around," he said.
Even SDG&E's critics had little to complain about regarding the salary boosts.
"It's hard to complain if the shareholders pick up most of the burden," said Gary DeLoss, executive director of the Utilities Consumer Action Network, a consumer watchdog group. "But ratepayers have helped SDG&E over this bad period, and maybe they should be rewarded with some rate relief."
SDG&E officials maintain that their salaries are less than those paid other energy utility executives--especially considering that Page fills all three top spots.