Natural gas sticker shock: Southern California residents see a sharp increase in bills this month

SYLLMAR, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Many Southern California natural gas bills are suddenly getting more expensive.

SoCal Gas has already warned customers: ‘January bills likely to be shockingly high’

Lauren Davies is among the shocked customers.

When she opened her family’s gas bill this month, she found it was nearly 25 percent 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 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 used and it’s crazy,” Davis said.

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

According to the US Energy Information Administration, the reasons for the increase in the price of natural gas include the following factors:

  • Widespread below normal temperatures
  • High consumption of natural gas
  • Reduced flow of natural gas
  • Pipeline restrictions including support in West Texas
  • Low levels of natural gas storage in the Pacific region
  • SoCalGas announced Friday that it has contributed $1 million to its gas assistance fund, which gives one-time grants of $100 to qualified applicants.

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

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

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

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