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SDG&E customers saw bills skyrocket even before the January 1 rate hike

At least two more rate hikes expected, one by SDG&E in January and a 3% statewide hike in 2023.

SAN DIEGO — “If it keeps going up, I don't know what I am going to do,” said Clairemont homeowner Tammy Smith. 

Smith shares her three-bedroom, 1,100-square-foot home with two roommates to help her save on the bills. When Smith looked at her December SDG&E bill, she was stunned and posted about the year-over-year increase on the NextDoor app.

“Last December my bill was $297.46 this year it's $435.17, a difference of $137.71,” said Smith.  

Smith is disabled and already qualifies for the utility’s CARE program which lowers her bill by 30%. Since her post online, she says hundreds of other San Diegans have chimed in. 

“One person says mine was $890 last month and I am afraid to open this month’s bill,” Smith said while reading some of the NextDoor comments on her phone. Other commenters shared their SDG&E bill stories including some who have solar.

However, now with the passage of SB 846, every ratepayer across the state could soon be paying an additional 3%.

“This was voted on literally on the last day of the legislative session, literally in the middle of the night, while their constituents were sleeping,” said Nina Babiarz, Director of Development with the Public Watchdogs group. Babiarz says SB846 was just approved by CA state lawmakers in December. 

It’s supposed to pay for upgrades and repairs to extend the license of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant located in Northern California. Babiarz says written into the bill is the fact that the CPUC does not have to have any public hearings on it.

“All ratepayers in the state of California regardless of location (will pay for this), and that's just an estimate by the way, it could go higher than that,” Babiarz said.

Babiarz also shared the notices she’s received that represent additional requests to increase the utility rates in 2023.

“Not only do we have the highest bills in the continental U.S., but nearly 30% of San Diegans actually could not pay their utility bills last year,” said Babiarz.

In addition to that 3% statewide increase, CBS 8 reported back in October that SDG&E rates would be going up in January of 2023, costing the average household roughly more than $34 per month or $400 per year.

CBS 8 reached out to SDG&E who responded in an email that no one was available for an on-camera interview Friday but did release this statement:

SDG&E remains committed to working with our customers as prices for a variety of goods and services, including natural gas and electricity, continue to surge across the nation. It’s important that we help customers prepare as much as possible for colder weather and higher winter energy bills, and that we provide access to financial assistance.”

SDG&E also told CBS 8 in the email that the soaring cost of natural gas is contributing to higher energy bills, not just here but nationwide. The utility says to find out if you qualify for financial assistance, go to sdge.com/assistance.

Meanwhile, Tammy Smith says she hopes more people share their stories in hopes that a change can be made.

“I don't know how to start a movement but something need to be done otherwise you're going to have more people on the street,” said Smith.

WATCH RELATED: Natural gas prices increasing in cold weather, SDG&E provides tips to save (Dec. 2022).



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