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SDG&E rates to increase in January

The average electricity and gas customer will pay $34 more per month.

SAN DIEGO — You know how high your SDG&E bill got last year. Brace yourself because it's expected to go up again.

"We made a commitment last year to make sure customers aren't surprised," said Scott Crider, SDG&E's senior vice president of external operations and support.

Following last year's fallout over record high bills, Crider says the company wants to be transparent about what's to come in January of next year.

For electricity, SDG&E customers can expect to pay an average of $28 more per month, with delivery forecasted to increase by $15, and generation $13.

For gas, it will be at least another $6 more a month.

Total estimated increase: $34 every month or about $400 a year.

CBS 8’s Shannon Handy asked Crider:

"That's something a lot of people can't afford, so what do you say to someone who says 'Hey, this is not fair? We already pay so much, why do we have to pay more?'"

Crider responded:

“We recognize, especially for working families who are dealing with higher rent, higher water costs, higher food costs, that there's no good time for a rate increase or higher bills. But why we're talking to customers so early this year is we want to make sure they're taking advantage of the programs and services we have in place to be able to help them," said Crider.

Crider says SDG&E offers a 35% discount for low income customers, payment plans, as well as $100 million in state and federal funding they’ve secured to help those who are behind on their bills.

As for why rates are increasing, Crider says the biggest contributing factor is the price of natural gas.

"Natural gas is globally at a decade high and what that is impacting is the cost of natural gas to use for cooling or water heating, but it also impacts the cost of electricity that we have to buy on behalf of our customers because natural gas is used in power plants," said Crider.

Crider says wildfire mitigation projects and modernizing the grid so it can handle more renewables, energy storage, and electric vehicles also play a role.

CBS 8’s Shannon Handy asked him if all that work is really necessary.

"Some people feel like you're over-spending and those costs are being put on their bills."

Crider responded:

"It's not about investment in infrastructure just to do it. It's really in response to very dramatic policy changes we're seeing in California and the direction we're getting from the legislature," said Crider.

The California Public Utilities Commission still has to formally approve the rate hike, which is expected to happen in December.

"Any increase can impact families and we recognize this is for many families could be a challenge but we also wanna make sure they understand they are getting a utility that is clean, that is reliable and that is ultimately safe,” said Crider.

WATCH RELATED: Does SDG&E reimburse customers for spoiled food due to a power outage? (September 2022)

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