A wide range of assistance programs available to help
San Diego Gas & Electric implemented new natural gas and electric rates effective Jan. 1, 2023, that reflect the increasing costs of providing clean, safe and reliable energy services. The most significant contributor to the increases is the ongoing, steep rise in the natural gas market, which has impacted energy bills across the nation. Natural gas is not just used for heating and cooking, it’s also used to generate 40% of this nation’s electricity.
The cost per unit of natural gas (known as a therm) has more than doubled for the month of January increasing from $2.55 per therm in January 2022 to $5.11 per therm in January 2023. More than 90% of the increase in the overall gas rate is driven by the market price for gas – what SDG&E pays suppliers to buy the gas on behalf of our customers. There is no markup of the commodity cost for gas or electricity. It is passed directly through to customers; SDG&E does not make a profit from rising gas prices. If SDG&E pays $1 for natural gas in the commodity market, that’s what SDG&E customers pay. SDG&E began alerting customers about rising gas prices and anticipated rate changes in October so they could be better prepared.
If your household peak winter gas 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.
Natural gas rates paid by customers change monthly based on the market price for the fuel, and residential natural gas usage is typically the highest in January when the weather in our region is usually the coldest. Aside from market conditions and usage, other factors impacting gas bills include previously approved investments in pipeline safety and reliability.
“We understand the challenges customers are facing as the cost of goods and services across the board continues to increase. While not good news, we want to make sure our customers are prepared for significantly higher winter bills, and more importantly, that there are tools and resources, including financial assistance available, given the severity of natural gas market conditions,” said SDG&E Vice President of Customer Services Dana Golan. “Please know that we are here to help and work with our customers who may be struggling financially.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, a convergence of circumstances resulted in the escalating price levels: widespread, below-normal temperatures; high natural gas consumption; reduced natural gas flows; pipeline constraints, including maintenance in West Texas; and low natural gas storage levels in the Pacific region.
New Electric Rates and Bill Impact
Natural gas market conditions also affect electric rates because natural gas is used to generate electricity. A typical SDG&E residential customer who receives both electric delivery and electric generation (bundled service) from SDG&E may see their average monthly electric bill increase by about $25 from ~$160 to ~$185 starting January. Customers who are enrolled in the CARE bill discount program could see their monthly electric bills increase from ~$105 to ~$120.
Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) customers who receive electric generation from their CCA could see the electric delivery portion of their bill (which includes the cost of infrastructure operated by SDG&E and certain state-mandated program costs) increase by about $10 from ~$125 to ~$135, effective Jan. 1. This estimate applies to a typical residential customer. CCA customers who are enrolled in the CARE bill discount program could see their monthly electric delivery charges increase from ~$80 to ~$85. CCA customers should contact their CCA for information on their electric generation rate.
Customers who wish to have more predictable bills month to month – even out high-bill months with low-bill months – are encouraged to sign up for our Level Pay program.
Additionally, SDG&E offers a variety of assistance programs, including bill discounts, debt relief, payment plans and energy efficiency programs. Learn more at sdge.com/assistance.
Ways to Cut Your Winter Energy Bill
SDG&E has created a dedicated webpage with tools and tips to help customers cut their winter energy bill. Check it out at Energy Management - Winter | San Diego Gas & Electric (sdge.com). Here are some easy ways to reduce energy use:
- Lower your thermostat: You can save as much as 10% per year on heating and cooling by turning your thermostat down 7-10 °F for 8 hours a day in the fall and winter, health permitting.
- Control humidity: Instead of reaching for the thermostat, use a humidifier to keep your home humidity between 30 and 50%. You'll feel warmer with some humidity in the air.
- Wash with cold water: Washing clothes in cold water can save you up to 10% on water heating costs
- Stop the breeze: Caulk and weather-strip around drafty doors and windows.
- Reduce use of non-essential appliances: Spas, pool heaters and fireplaces can use a significant amount of gas or electricity.