Long Beach will hold an emergency meeting Wednesday to address soaring natural gas bills that have become unaffordable for many residents this winter.

“We know that utility bills have been unusually high due to record high natural gas prices,” Mayor Rex Richardson tweeted. “That’s why…I’m calling an emergency City Council meeting to establish a financial assistance fund for seniors and families struggling to make ends meet.”

City Council members will consider a measure to authorize the city manager to work with the Long Beach Public Utilities Department to “implement a Natural Gas Price-Spike Relief Program for the City’s residential gas customers most in need of payment assistance.”

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and will be held in person and virtually.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration released data showing natural gas consumption reached a new record high on Dec. 23, 2022, when, at the same time, production cratered.

Natural gas supply and demand in December 2022. (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

A winter storm moved across the nation from Dec. 21-26, bringing blizzard conditions, high winds and brutally cold temperatures.

Shortly after the storm, SoCalGas, the largest gas distributor in California and the nation, warned customers that their gas bills were “likely to be shockingly high.”

Many customers are indeed seeing gas bills two or three times what they were last January.

On Feb. 7, the five-member California Public Utilities Commission will meet to discuss several issues related to the spike and will likely vote to issue Climate Credits early.

Long Beach Utilities recommends the following steps to reduce natural gas usage and save money:

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