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SDG&E gas bills expected to more than double this month

"If it keeps going up, I don't know what I'm gonna do," said SDG&E customer, Tammy Smith.

SAN DIEGO — Your SDG&E bills are high now. But, brace yourself. They're about to raise even more.

SDG&E says the price of natural gas is to blame.

For gas alone, if your household peak winter bill was $105 last January, you can expect your January 2023 bill to be $225.

Customers who are enrolled in the Care bill discount program could see their January gas bill increase from $60 to $130.

"We recognize it's hard,” said Helen Gao, a senior communications manager for SDG&E.

Following last year's fallout over record high bills, she says the company wants to be more transparent about what's to come.

According to SDG&E, the cost per unit of natural gas, also known as a therm, has more than doubled for the month of January.

Increasing from $2.36 per therm in January 2022 to $5.11 per therm in January 2023.

Gao claims SDG&E doesn't profit from that.

"What we pay in the market to get natural gas or electricity for our customers, we don't mark that up. If we pay a dollar for natural gas, our customers pay a dollar," said Gao.

But, a bill is made up of just more than natural gas.

CBS 8 asked Gao to explain why those costs are going up as well, and why we pay more than anyone else in the country.

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

As for the “delivery fee” increase, Gao says it’s costing more to deliver energy into homes.

"That's the cost of the infrastructure, the pipes, the wires, the power poles that get the energy to your home," said Gao.

Still, that explanation does little to ease customers' concerns, including Tammy Smith. Last week, she told CBS 8 her bill went up more than $137, compared to the same month a year ago.

"If it keeps going up, I don't know what I'm gonna do," said Smith.

CBS 8 showed Gao the interview, and asked what options do people like Smith have?

“We have debt relief. We have payment plans. We have bill discounts and energy efficiency programs they can take advantage of to help them reduce their bill long term,” said Gao.

Gao says SDG&E will work with customers to ensure their lights stay on. Long-term, they're pushing for rate reform at the state level.

When asked if continuous rate hikes are the new norm, Gao says it's possible bills will go down after January when the demand for natural gas declines. But, even that's not guaranteed.

"We recognize how difficult this is, how challenging it is, how tough the situation is for local families, but we want them to know we are here to help them," said Gao.

For a list of resources that can help you pay your bill, click here.

WATCH RELATED: SDG&E customers already seeing their bills climb ahead of rate hikes (Dec. 2022).




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