PG&E says your bill could be down an average of 75% this month after a sharp winter spike.
SAN JOSE, CA (KGO) — Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) says your account will be down 75% this month after a huge winter spike.
What goes up doesn’t always go down, but PG&E says it will happen this month. As market prices for natural gas fall, PG&E says utility bills will also be down – by an average of 75% – a relief for customers who are still reeling from winter bills.
“I was just amazed how my gas and electricity bills doubled,” said Joseph Bell of San Jose.
Bell thought that something had gone wrong. His PGThe &E bill nearly doubled from $115 in January to $223 last month.
RELATED: Group demands Gov. Newsom to hold PG&E is responsible for fires, blackouts, wild rates
“So I even asked if there could be a gas leak somewhere?” Bell said.
“My November bill was only $68 and then, to my surprise, I received a $364 bill in January,” Campbell resident Chantel Burbin said.
Burbin and her family live in an 850-square-foot home with electrical appliances. She told PG.&E their count didn’t make sense.
“I have a rep who said you should probably get more blankets,” Burbin said.
“I was overwhelmed by the bill so I called PG.&E and asked what was going on,” Bell said.
PG&E said natural gas market prices rose this winter as supply cuts and cold temperatures lifted demand. Utility bills rose by an average of about 32% from November to March.
RELATED: Why are natural gas prices high? Utilities, experts blame for everything from weather to storage
In a PG statement&E denied concerns that it profited from high prices, saying, “We do not control market prices for gas and electricity, and we do not raise the price of gas and electricity that we buy on behalf of our customers.”
“PGGas &E spending is up 80% which is a huge increase… it’s even worse in Southern California but PG&E will say — and they’re right — they don’t make money by selling us gas,” said UC Berkeley energy economist Severin Borenstein.
Borenstein says West Coast market prices have risen more than five times the national average.
The state depends on imports for 90% of its natural gas, and he says several factors have cut supplies. Among them, westbound pipelines are closed for maintenance in November and December.
Unusually cold weather has boosted demand on the West Coast, and the state is still facing long-term problems: a pipeline explosion two years ago already cut supplies from Texas, and a natural gas storage explosion in 2015 slashed back-up supplies in California.
However, Gov. Newsom urged federal regulators to investigate whether suppliers deliberately cut off gas supplies to drive up prices.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is currently investigating. In a letter to Newsom, Commission Chairman Willie Phillips pledged to prioritize the investigation, stating: “If any potential wrongdoing is found, the Enforcement Administration will look into these issues and, if necessary, seek unfair profits and civil sanctions.” “
MORE: Data shows a fifth of San Francisco metropolitan households are struggling to pay rising utility bills.
“I think the investigation is fully justified. But I wouldn’t be sure that they would actually find something,” Borenstein said.
For now, according to Borenstein, the crisis must end.
“I think next month people will get a real break from paying their utility bills,” Borenstein said.
PG&E said bills will decline by an average of 75% this month, mainly due to lower natural gas prices. In addition, customers receive up to $91 in early “climate credit” through the Air Pollution Reduction Program.
The State Public Utilities Commission is also investigating why gas prices have skyrocketed and how to prevent this from happening in the future. Many viewers say they still believe they were being charged for energy they didn’t use. Many people have had to switch to payment plans. If this is you, contact 7 On Your Side.
Take a look at other stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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