Southern California residents may face additional increases in gas bills in 2024 due to a proposal submitted by the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) for a 13.2 percent rate hike.
As the nation's largest natural gas utility, serving almost 22 million customers, SoCalGas filed the proposal last summer, prior to Californians experiencing a dramatic rise in prices during the winter months. Many residents saw their bills triple in January before experiencing some relief in February. As March approached, SoCalGas reported an 83 percent decrease in natural gas market prices from January highs, predicting average bills to be around $100 rather than $300.
Authorities estimate that the proposed increase would raise the average monthly residential gas bill by $8.62. However, the potential for an automatic price increase in January has left many billpayers in the region concerned.
This week, homeowners and business owners expressed their confusion to KCAL as to why the utility would propose such a substantial increase following the recent winter price surge. Several residents reported having to modify operations or even reduce grocery expenses to cope with the elevated costs. Many opted to lower their thermostats and endured the chilly temperatures in February.
Before the rate increase can be implemented, it must be approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, and it would affect almost everyone in the region. SoCalGas states that over 90 percent of Southern California households depend on natural gas for heating and hot water, while 60 percent of California's total electricity is generated from natural gas.
The utility maintains that raising rates will enable it to maintain a stable service.
On its website, SoCalGas explained, "Our rate request will allow us to modernize and upgrade our infrastructure so that we can maintain and enhance long-term reliability and safety for our customers, support the growth of more diverse renewable energy options, and retain and reward the most talented energy professionals, so they can continue delivering the safe, clean, and reliable energy and superior customer service our customers deserve. In submitting a rate request, we hold ourselves accountable to our customers first and foremost."