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John Daley ReportingBonuses well into six-figures on top of generous compensation packages of already at least a half million dollars, that's what the top five Questar Corporation executives are making, and consumer advocates are raising red flags.
Your gas bills are going way up. The profits for Questar, which supplies that gas, are going up too, and, as we found by looking at a report for Questar stockholders, so is compensation for the corporation's top executives.
Heating bills for Utahns are on the rise after Questar asked for a rate hike, which was ok'd by the Public Service Commission last month. Meantime, Questar Gas' parent company, Questar Corp., reported a 78% increase in profits--a 65 million dollar gain in one quarter following robust profits earlier in the year.
Among those raising red flags are consumer watchdogs as well as a former employee and current stockholder who agreed to speak with us if we'd hide his identity
Former Employee, Current Stockholder: "Why should we be paying more when in the last year they're making record earnings?"
Roger Ball, Consumer Advocate: "There's patently obviously something wrong when Questar's profits are accelerating so fast and Questar Gas company customers are being asked to pay so much more. Some new thinking needs to be brought to that."
At the same time, Questar executives are being richly rewarded. Keith Rattie, Questar Corp.'s CEO, was paid 2.1 million dollars last year, that includes a 600-thousand dollar bonus. Charles Stanley, CEO of Questar Market Resources, made 1.5 million including a nearly 400-thousand dollar bonus.
The bonuses for last year for the top five Questar Corporation Executives totaled more than 1.5 million dollars.
Former Employee, Current Stockholder: "How do you justify giving a guy a 661-thousand dollar bonus when he makes half a million dollars a year, plus his stock option?"
But a company spokesman says the compensation package is in keeping with what's going on with the industry nationally and has nothing to do with the rate hike.
Chad Jones, Questar Spokesman: "They're only connected in that the entire energy industry in the country is connected. The executive salaries in this corporation have nothing to do with Questar gas rates, Questar gas bills."
The company points out that gas rates in Utah are better than nearly everywhere else in the country. The head of the state's Division of Public Utilities tells us a regulated utility is entitled to recover its reasonable costs for providing that service. She says a routine audit is underway and as part of that the state will look at executive compensation.