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Breaking down SDG&E bills; why are they so high?

"It doesn't make any sense," said Sylvester Raymond of Imperial Beach.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — San Diego Gas and Electric customers are questioning why their recent bills are so high.

SDG&E raised rates January first, but CBS 8 is hearing from people who say the numbers they're seeing aren't making sense.

"Why is there such a disparity? I'm not using it any differently," said Sylvester Raymond of Imperial Beach.

He moved into a two-bedroom condo back in September. Since then, he's seen his SDG&E bills fluctuate quite a bit. That first bill that I got was $234. So, it goes down to like $50, $51 and then it goes right back up this last bill to a hundred dollars," said Raymond.

Raymond's bill initially went down after SDG&E replaced his meter.

But, like many customers we've heard from, it shot back up this past month.

A closer look reveals he's being charged more during times when he's hardly using any electricity at all.

“At 2, 3 in the morning, all the lights are off, nothing is on. I'm the only one here. I live here by myself. I’d spike up to two and three and four and five kilowatt-hours,” said Raymond.

Raymond believes the mistake is on SDG&E.

He's requested they check their lines and transformers, as opposed to his meter, something he says they have yet to do.

"The last conversation I had with them was the last week of December, and true to form they said I'll call you back in a week, and that was a month ago and I haven’t heard anything."

Raymond is frustrated. He's not alone. Since first airing a story about rates going up, CBS 8 has heard from several viewers.

On Twitter, Mindy said she was on vacation for two weeks in December, but paid double.

CBS 8 employees have also been hit with high bills. This one belongs to our managing editor.

Our managing editor’s latest bill was $249.36. So, what exactly are customers paying for?

Here's a breakdown.

Gas usage is calculated using what are called therms.

Electricity usage is based on kilowatt-hours.

SDG&E says the class average electric rate for residential customers rose 7.8%, from .32 cents per kilowatt-hour to .34.5 cents .

That class average includes customers enrolled in programs for low-income households, so some customers not in those cost cutting programs saw an even bigger jump.

As for natural gas, the average price per therm is $2.38, up from $1.91 a year ago.

The sharp increase is due to a natural gas shortage.

Then, there are added charges and fees.

Among them:

SDG&E customers pay for ‘Public Purpose Programs,’ which are state-mandated assistance programs for low income customers.

Those programs grew during the pandemic, so charges went up.

There's also a ‘Wildfire Fund Charge’ to support the state's wildfire insurance fund.

That's increased as well.

SDG&E has declined requests to speak on camera, but in a statement said:

"The company is not allowed to set its own rate.  Rather, as a regulated utility, we are required to file all rate requests with the California Public Utilities Commission, who conducts a rigorous public review process that involves many stakeholders, including consumer advocates, before approving rates paid by our customers."

Meanwhile, SDG&E says January is the highest usage month of the year so people could see their future bills go down.

Still, if you think there's an actual problem with your bill, give them a call.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego Gas and Electric raises rates; customers experiencing sticker shock (January 2022)

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