California utility company warns customers of “shockingly high” 128 percent natural gas price increases

Beth Torres
Photo byElnur/123rf

California-based Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas), hoping to prepare its customers for a huge jump in their upcoming utility bills, recently delivered this bad news:

“January bills are likely to be shockingly high. An unprecedented cold snap across the nation in part has caused natural gas market prices in the West to more than double between December and January – to the tune of 128% since December. As a result, our customers can expect to see higher gas bills in the coming weeks.”

SoCalGas is the largest provider of natural gas in the United States, serving 21.8 million customers throughout Central and Southern California.

Just how high will my SoCalGas utility bill go?

The company estimates that someone who paid $65 for a monthly natural gas bill last winter should expect to pay about $160 a month starting in January 2023. A $130 bill last winter is likely to rise to about $315 a month this year. "Shockingly high” seems like a good description for utility bills that more than double in one year.

Why has my bill gone up so much?

SoCalGas emphasized that the rapidly rising cost of natural gas is the primary reason for the huge jump in the size of your bill. Whether the “unprecedented cold snap” is the primary driver of the unprecedented jump in the price of natural gas, however, is debatable.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the market for natural gas has been sharply distorted by international conflict, with significant increases in natural gas exports:

“Natural gas consumption, production, and exports broke records in 2022 as real average prices hit 14-year high”
“More than 60% of U.S. LNG exports continued to flow to European Union destinations in the first 10 months of 2022, displacing East Asian markets as the top destination for U.S. LNG, mainly to offset a decline in Russia’s natural gas pipeline exports to Europe.”

(LNG = liquefied natural gas)

What can I do about it?

Regardless of the cause, the surge in price for natural gas is stretching many household budgets to the breaking point. SoCalGas suggests the usual tips to lessen the impact of these super-high rates, essentially by using less gas. For example:

  • Turn the thermostat down 
  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Lower the temperature of your water heater
  • Avoid non-essential usage, such as gas fireplaces and pool heaters

The company also offers information about several assistance programs for those who qualify. Look into these for possible direct financial assistance.

Here is a short video by KTLA News 5 discussing how some are being impacted by the spike in utility bills:

What do you think about these massive utility bills?

It’s one of those questions that tends to answer itself: chances are, your response is some version of “Not much!” Leave a comment if you would like to elaborate.

I plan to write more about rising utility bills here on NewsBreak, including reporting on some of the ways utility companies are attempting to help their customers deal with the resulting financial pain. Follow me so you can be sure to see these along with my other content.

Please be sure to “like” this article if you enjoyed it and share it with others who may be interested. Thank you!

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