Natural gas sticker shock: Southern Californians see sharp increase in bills this month

SYLMAR, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Many Southern California natural gas bills suddenly become more expensive.

SoCal Gas has already warned customers: “January bills likely to be shockingly high,”

Lauren Davis is among the shocked customers.

When she opened her family’s gas bill this month, she found it was nearly 25% higher than expected.

“I opened the bill and it was $330 and the first thing was, ‘What’s the temperature in our house?'” Davis said.

After taking a closer look, Davis found that she actually used less gas this year compared to the same time period last year.

But the cost of natural gas supplies nearly doubled, putting more money out of her pocket.

“For a colder house, less gas is used, and that̵[ads1]7;s crazy,” Davis said.

When SoCal Gas warned customers of the expected increase on a website notice in late December, the company said prices in the Western natural gas market more than doubled between December and January.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the reasons behind the natural gas price increase included the following factors:

  • Widespread, under normal temperatures
  • High natural gas consumption
  • Reduced natural gas flows
  • Pipeline restrictions, including maintenance in West Texas
  • Low natural gas storage levels in the Pacific region
  • SoCalGas announced Friday that it contributed $1 million to the gas assistance fund, which provides one-time $100 grants to qualified applicants.

    Davis said she did not meet the income requirements. Instead, she had to deduct from the family’s food budget. She worries about those with less flexibility, like her elderly neighbor.

    “I can live in 66 (degrees). She can’t. She’s on oxygen, which she can’t live in 66, and they’re actually looking to get a roommate. That’s the answer,” Davis said, adding, ” having a 94 year old get a roommate?”

    Among the tips SoCalGas gave to reduce natural gas use were not using it where it wasn’t needed, such as with a gas fireplace, lowering the thermostat three to five degrees and washing clothes in cold water.

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