Customers may have noticed an unwelcome surprise on their SoCalGas bill recently.
The cost of natural gas is up and SoCalGas tells KSBY they pass that cost directly onto customers.
“It was a little bit of a shock for sure since we have, in the last eight years, we've remodeled 100% of the house and put all new high efficiency [appliances],” said Robert Collins of San Luis Obispo.
Collins says he upgraded his furnace and his usage has remained pretty much the same each winter, but his most recent SoCalGas bill was $120. That's $40 more than this same time last year.
“This month, apparently, it just skyrocketed,” Collins said. “I haven't had a bill this high, ever.”
Another customer in Guadalupe shared a similar reaction when she got her gas bill.
“I was unhappy. It went up 20 bucks,” said Cindy Otterness.
She says her winter gas bill is typically about $55.
“I don't know what to do,” she said. “I live on Social Security so I have limited resources but I don't want to freeze either.”
Other locals shared their sticker shock on social media, revealing winter gas bills two or three times their usual January bill.
SoCalGas tells KSBY that winter is usually when bills tend to be the highest because people are using more gas for heating. The company’s website also shows some rate hikes went into effect this month.
“The most important factor for people to know is that the market prices for natural gas are higher,” said Gillian Wright, SoCalGas Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. “They have increased. They were higher in December. They've increased significantly over December and January.”
SoCalGas says for a typical customer, the higher commodity prices translate to a December bill $20 higher than last December. For January, on average, it’s about $35 more than a year ago.
“It’s very difficult to predict what will happen with natural gas prices. They can move quite quickly but from what we're seeing right now, it looks like the February prices are going to be lower,” Wright said.
After seeing her bill, Otterness is keeping a close eye on her thermostat to decrease any future bills.
“I keep the thermostat set at 67 so I'm trying to be as conservative as I can,” she said.
SoCalGas tells KSBY that even lowering your thermostat just a few degrees can really make a difference. The company adds that using less hot water and cutting down the time in your shower will also help with your bill.