Debra L. Reed has been elected chief executive officer of Sempra Energy and a new member of the company's board.

Reed succeeds Donald E. Felsinger, who will continue in the role of Sempra Energy's executive chairman until his planned retirement in late-2012. Neal E. Schmale, president and chief operating officer of Sempra Energy, will remain in his current role until his planned retirement later this year.

“Our board and I believe strongly that Debbie is the best person to take this company forward,” commented Felsinger. “In her 33-year career with the Sempra Energy companies, she has demonstrated outstanding leadership at every level of responsibility, a keen ability to drive superior performance and a broad understanding of the energy industry.”

Reed has been executive vice president of Sempra Energy since April 2010. Previously, she was president and chief executive officer of San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas), Sempra Energy's regulated California utilities. She also served as chief operating officer of the two utilities, after being initially appointed president of SDG&E in 2000.

Reed, who graduated summa cum laude from the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, first joined SoCalGas in 1978 as an energy systems engineer. In 1988, she became the first female officer appointed at the company.