Many Californians are experiencing sticker shock with their latest natural gas bill.

As utilities warned, natural gas prices have skyrocketed in January due to market forces, colder than average temperatures across the nation and weather issues in California, they say.

“If your residential peak winter bill was around $65 last winter, you can expect to see bills closer to $160 this year,” SoCalGas warned earlier in the month.

Unfortunately, that estimate might be on the low side.

The “Core Procurement Gas Price” per therm, the measurement of heat energy, is up roughly 314% over last January, according to SoCalGas.

In some other parts of the country, however, natural gas futures prices have hit a 17-month low.

“It’s the exact opposite of what’s happening in California today,” Robert Yawger, an energy futures strategist at investment firm Mizuho Securities, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a big country and there are regional differentials that will spike – or slide for that matter – and right now, because of the weather situation in California, you’re getting some big spikes.”

SoCalGas says prices are determined by the market and are passed on directly to customers without markup.

“Our customers are understandably shocked by these high market prices suddenly experienced throughout Southern California,” Long Beach Utilities General Manager Chris Garner said in a news release. “While there are legitimate market forces that have resulted in the cost increase, that does not ease the financial impact to our residents, who rely on natural gas to heat their homes, cook their food and warm their showers.”

What can Californians do to lower their natural gas bill?

Long Beach utilities recommends the following options:

  • Dial down the thermostat to 68 degrees or lower
  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Take shorter hot showers
  • Warm your home with natural sunlight during the day
  • Bundle up with warm blankets, socks and sweaters

Gas Procurement Prices

MonthEffectiveCore  Procurement Gas Price (Cents Per Therm)