“There’s no easy way to put this: January bills are likely to be shockingly high.”
So begins an announcement from the Southern California Gas Company to customers warning them that their monthly bill is about to go up — way up.
Remember the frigid temperatures that paralyzed much of the country around Christmas? Well, due to that “unprecedented cold snap” and other factors, natural gas market prices have more than doubled between December and January, rising 128%, according to SoCalGas.
How will this affect customers? Their bills are also likely to more than double, the utility said in a press release.
“If your residential peak winter bill was around $65 last winter, you can expect to see bills closer to $160 this year,” the release said. “Similarly, if it was around $130 last winter, customers can expect to see bills around $315 this year. These increases are primarily due to increases in the price of gas and to a much lesser extent increased transportation rates.”
SoCalGas stressed that “while we don’t set these prices (they’re set by regional and national markets), nor does SoCalGas actually profit from rising prices, we want our customers to know that we understand that this may be a shock and a hardship for some.”
“We understand that our customers are starting to feel the pain caused by large changes in the natural gas market,” Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Gillian Wright said in the release. “And we also recognize that we owe it to our customers to provide them with as many tools and tips as possible to help them find ways to prepare for colder weather and higher winter bills, including financial assistance in some cases.”
SoCalGas is publicizing the Gas Assistance Fund, a grant program to help customers pay their gas bill. SoCalGas recently contributed $1 million to the fund. For information on the Gas Assistance Fund, visit SoCalGas’ website.
Another option? The Level Pay Plan, where bills are averaged over 12 months, instead of higher bills in the winter and smaller bills in the summer.
Customers can also ease the pain by reducing their gas usage, such as by lowering thermostats, washing clothes in cold water and avoiding using gas appliances unless necessary.