Natural gas prices are going to be shockingly high for January, according to the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
The utility sent out warning emails to their customers that read, "There's no easy way to put it, January bills are going to be higher than usual".
They attribute the historic prices to a culmination of things: widespread below-average temperatures, high consumption, reduced natural gas flows, and pipeline constraints.
Higher prices are anticipated during winter months, but the culmination of outside factors has created a record-breaking price hike this year. Usually ranging from $5-$6/dekatherm, then growing to $8/dekatherm last year and now this year, prices soared as high as $50/dekatherm.
To give you some perspective, if your bill was around $65 last winter, you can expect something closer to $160 this year. Similarly, if your peak bill was around $130 last year, it could jump closer to $315 this year.
"I'm not happy about it, We have all been talking about it at work and we just don’t understand why. It's just very frustrating," said Alice Salazar, Santa Maria resident.
SoCalGas says they don’t set the prices or profit from the rate hike. That is regulated by the state and national agencies that they purchase from. In a statement, SoCalGas Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Gillian Wright said, "We know that these higher prices have a real impact on our customers, but we want them to know that there is help”.
Wright referred to the Gas Assistance Fund and California Alternative Rates for Energy program that offers financial help to qualified customers.