Some early relief could be on the way for Californians who are struggling to pay their exorbitantly high natural gas bills this winter.

The California Public Utilities Commission is considering applying California Climate Credits to utility bills “as soon as possible” to PG&E, SDG&E, SCE, and SoCalGas customers rather than wait until spring, a CPUC spokesperson confirmed Thursday.

Natural gas credits normally appear on utility bills in April and electricity credits are issued in April and October.

Those payments come from a state program that requires power plants, natural gas companies and other large industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy carbon permits through the Air Resources Board.

The amounts you receive vary based on your utility provider, but typically total $90 to $120.

2023 Electric California Climate Credit Schedule (CPUC)

PG&E$38.39     $38.39
SDG&E$60.70  $60.70
Bear Valley*$47.08     $47.08
Liberty*$29.49     $29.49
Pacific Power*

$132.85     $132.85
California Public Utilities Commission

A perfect storm of factors has caused natural gas bills to soar to two or three (or more) times what they were in January 2022.

Among them, below normal temperatures in the western U.S. which has led to higher demand, lower natural gas imports from Canada, pipeline issues in West Texas and low storage levels in the Pacific region, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Residential Natural Gas California Climate Credit. Typically issued in April.

201820192020 2021 2022 2023Total Received Per Household 2018-2023
PG&E$30$25$27 $25 $48 $52.78$208
SDG&E*$34$21 $18 $43 $43.40$162
Southwest Gas$22$25$27 $28 $49 $56.35$207
SoCalGas*$50$26 $22 $44 $50.77$194
California Public Utilities Commission

This week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors asked the state of California to investigate the cause of the spike and develop a plan to avoid future ones.

“Exorbitant natural gas price spikes are upending our constituents’ abilities to pay for the essential utility service that keeps them warm during these cold winter months,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement. “We need to examine what is driving this unexpected price increase and also develop relief strategies that will reach the many people who will struggle to pay gas bills that tripled overnight. We can’t wait for this issue to fix itself.”

“The surge in natural gas prices have had sweeping effects in the County, and low-income households are disproportionately impacted by the shocking and unforeseen price increases,” Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell said.

The five-member CPUC will meet on February 7 to discuss a wide range of issues related to the spike, spokesperson Christopher Chow said.

The nonprofit Consumer Watchdog has also asked California Attorney General Rob Bonta to launch his own probe.

Chart showing daily natural gas prices in the western United States. December 2023. (U.S. Energy Information Administration).
Chart showing daily natural gas prices in the western United States. December 2023. (U.S. Energy Information Administration).

SoCalGas recently announced a $1 million contribution to the Gas Assistance Fund, which will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, the utility said. The program offers one-time grants of up to $100 for qualifying customers.