With astronomical natural gas prices squeezing the pocketbooks of Southern California Gas Co.'s 21.8 million consumers, the company says relief may be on the way as soon as next month.
In a statement, the company said the price of natural gas for consumers would be down 68% for February compared to January.
"While we're relieved that prices have dropped significantly since last month, they remain higher than usual for this time of year," said Gillian Wright, a SoCalGas executive.
The utility attributed the drop in consumer gas prices primarily to a commensurate drop in the wholesale price SoCalGas will pay for gas in February compared to January.
The utility said in December that a customer who paid $130 in their peak month of winter consumption last year would this year pay $315, a 142% increase, due to a more than 300% increase in the wholesale price of natural gas since January 2022.
The higher gas prices have spurred elected officials to take action.
Long Beach Mayor Rex Richardson addressed the price hikes, saying in a tweet that he would call an emergency City Council meeting Wednesday afternoon "to establish a financial assistance fund for seniors and families struggling to make ends meet."
California Senate Minority Leader Brian M. Jones, a Republican from San Diego, wrote a letter Monday with other Republican senators to the California Public Utilities Commission urging the body to expedite the distribution of California Climate Credits to residents. Those credits, typically distributed in April and October, come from a state program requiring industrial polluters to buy carbon offsets from the California Air Resources Board.
SoCalGas, for its part, announced a $1-million contribution to the Gas Assistance Fund, which provides one-time payments of up to $100 for residents below specified income thresholds. The fund is a partnership between the utility and the United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
Customers looking for tips on how to conserve natural gas — and lower their bills in the process — can use this guide.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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