As Southern California Gas Co. works to stop a massive natural gas leak above Porter Ranch, the company’s customers elsewhere in the region have taken to social media to complain about their high bills.
Residents in Huntington Beach have been posting on a community Facebook page about bills that have doubled, and in some cases climbed four, five or six times higher than what they say is normal.
And Huntington Beach customers do not appear to be the only ones affected. Residents in Chino, La Crescenta, Granada Hills, Corona and other parts of Los Angeles have contacted KTLA about gas bills that they say are much higher than normal.
Some customers have expressed concern that the bills may be related to the company’s ongoing troubles with the leaking well at its Aliso Canyon facility in the Santa Susana Mountains.
“Could be that maybe they’re making us pay for the gas leak somewhere or maybe their meters aren't as accurate as they think,” customer Traci Moore told KTLA.
Many customers with complaints have indicated the Gas Co. has recently replaced their meters with new Advanced Meters that were expected to be more efficient and accurate. The new meters measure usage and transmit that info back to the company’s billing center without the need for a visit from a meter reader, according to SoCal Gas.
Tim Verplank, whose post Wednesday on the Huntington Beach Community Forum page generated more than 160 responses from other Gas Co. customers in the city, is one of those who got a new meter. He said his bill went from $12 to $63.
Verplank said he had contacted the company, which was sending a technician to check the meter.
A spokesman for the company told KTLA Friday that the bill increases are not linked to the situation at the Aliso Canyon facility, and that customers may not realize their usage increases every year when it gets cold.
"This has nothing to do with the leak at Aliso Canyon," spokesman Mike Mizrahi told KTLA.
Asked why bills were increasing now, Mizrahi said: "Because it's wintertime."
The company’s website states that customers could in fact expect to see a 6.5 percent decrease in January 2016 over rates in the previous month, thanks to market activity.