The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on February 2 approved the acceleration of the California Climate Credit for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) customers in response to the unprecedented natural gas prices impacting the Western United States. SoCalGas’ residential customers will receive a credit of $50.77 in their February or March bill.

The California Climate Credit is a state program designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the funds raised through the program are distributed annually in April to SoCalGas customers in the form of bill credits. Due to high natural gas bills in January, the CPUC voted to accelerate this annual credit to February or March, depending on customers’ individual billing cycles.

“We support the CPUC’s swift action to accelerate the Climate Credit for SoCalGas customers, who are in need of relief from the market forces that have led to these unusually high bills,” said SoCalGas Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer Gillian Wright.

“We know our customers have been feeling the effects of high gas prices acutely and this action, combined with lower market prices in February, will provide some relief. Still, we urge customers to continue to conserve and take advantage of financial assistance or payment programs that can help with high bills.”

After unprecedented highs due to West Coast market conditions [], market prices for natural gas have dropped significantly for February [] when compared to prices seen in January. While prices in the western region have decreased from the prices seen in January, they remain higher than last year.

The core procurement rate changes each month and reflects the price SoCalGas pays for natural gas for residential and business customers. SoCalGas does not 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 higher gas commodity prices.

Why Have Prices Been So High?

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a number of factors have contributed [] to higher natural gas commodity prices that customers are currently seeing.

Widespread, below-normal temperatures on much of the West Coast, including Washington and Oregon;

  • High natural gas demand for heating by customers in areas with below normal temperatures;
  • Reduced natural gas supplies to the West Coast from Canada;
  • Reduced interstate pipeline capacity to the West Coast because of pipeline maintenance activities in West Texas; and
  • Low natural gas storage levels in the Pacific Region.

According to the EIA, the U.S. set a natural gas consumption daily record [] on Dec. 23, 2022, further exacerbating supply and demand woes last month.

Help is Available

  • Conservation is one way to help lower bills. SoCalGas recommends the following tips to reduce energy usage:
  • Lowering your thermostat three to five degrees – if health permits – can save up to 10 percent on heating costs.
  • Installing proper caulking and weather-stripping can save roughly 10 to 15 percent on heating and cooling bills.
  • Washing clothes in cold water to save up to 10 percent on water heating costs.
  • Considering turning down the temperature on your water heater, keeping in mind that most hot water heaters require a temperature of 120 degrees or higher.
  • Limiting use of non-essential natural gas appliances such as spas and fireplaces.

SoCalGas’ free Ways to Save tool may also help customers find ways to save on natural gas bills, with a personalized savings plan that offers a household energy analysis, customized energy-efficiency recommendations, bill comparisons and energy usage comparisons. Ways to Save can be found at []. Customers can also sign up for weekly Bill Tracker Alerts [] to monitor natural gas consumption, take steps to reduce usage, and avoid bill surprises.

Eligible customers may sign up for a Level Pay Plan [] (LPP), for example, which averages their annual natural gas use and costs over 12 months. There are also financial assistance programs [] for eligible customers who are experiencing hardships.

In January, SoCalGas tripled its contribution to the Gas Assistance Fund [], increasing it to $1 million. This program helps income-qualified customers pay their natural gas bills with a one-time $100 grant.

Customers can visit [] for more information on the factors that lead to higher bills and ways we can help.

For more information, please visit [].