Just as many Southern Californians are turning up the thermostat to keep warm during this unusually cold winter, SoCalGas is warning customers of a potential rate hike next year that could increase the average household’s bill by some 13%.  

On Monday, the company hosted the first of two virtual public hearings to get opinions from the public on the proposed rate hikes.  

“I cannot afford it. This winter’s been incredibly cold,” Menifee resident Kathleen DeSilva said. “I cannot afford to have heat on in my house.”  

The outrage comes after many SoCalGas customers have dealt with high gas prices from cold weather that has dragged on for weeks. Prices surged 128% from December to January, with the elderly being especially vulnerable to the rate increases.  

“I’m living in a senior complex with 35 other seniors,” Moreno Valley resident Gage Wagner explained. “There’s no way we can afford any more rate increases. We’re tapped out.”  

If the California Public Utilities Commission approves the increase, the average customer’s bill will increase by $8.28 per month – nearly $100 more a year.  

SoCalGas says the rate hike is needed to upgrade infrastructure.  

“We know that our customers today are facing rising costs of many essentials they need, including energy, and there’s never a good time to discuss rate increases, but we respectfully ask that you consider this rate request through the lens of the long-term benefits and our collective work to transition to a clean energy economy,” said Dan Skopec with SoCalGas.  

Some customers, though, claim that SoCalGas executives are collecting high salaries while gouging customers.  

“I’d like to know what their people make for a living because I’m telling you, they’re being compensated well above market rate,” Rancho Palos Verde resident Barbara Donohue said. “This is a monopoly in violation of numerous anti-trust laws. If I want gas from some other supplier, I have no place to go.”  

The Public Utilities Commission will ultimately decide if the price increase goes into effect. If it does, the first increase will start next year, with even more increases through 2027.  

Another hearing is scheduled for Mar. 15. Customers can post their opinions online by following this link to the Public Utilities Commission’s public comments website.