Natural gas bills expected to double in January
Claremont residents should be prepared for a bit of a shock a when their Southern California Gas Company bills arrive this month.
Due to a combination of factors, including the unusually cold start to winter on the West Coast and increased demand for wholesale natural gas, SoCalGas said retail customers could see their January invoice double last month’s bill.
The bill received by this Courier reporter jumped from $150 in December to $240 in January, even though gas consumption remained steady.
To offset the high cost consumers can lower thermostats by a few degrees, and perhaps wear a sweater indoors; install caulking or weather stripping on windows and doors; wash clothes in cold water and air dry instead of using a gas dryer; turn down temperatures on water heaters; and limit the use of non-essential gas appliances such as fireplaces or spas. The utility offers a resource webpage with more ways to lower one’s bill
“The high bills are a result of historically high natural gas prices in the western United States,” read a SoCalGas news release. “SoCalGas doesn’t set the price for natural gas. Instead, natural gas prices are determined by national and regional markets. SoCalGas buys natural gas in those markets on behalf of residential and small business customers, and the cost of buying that gas is billed to those customers with no markup, meaning SoCalGas does not profit from gas commodity prices going up.”
The company announced it was contributing an additional $1 million to its Gas Assistance Fund, which helps income-qualified customers pay their gas bills. To qualify for the program the applicant must be the same person who receives the bill, and it must be for one’s primary residence. Income qualification is on a sliding scale depending on household size, beginning with $36,620 for one or two people, up to $93,260 for a family of eight.