Some of our customers have reached out to our Customer Contact Center asking why their recent bills have gone up. It comes down to two primary factors: an extended period of chilly weather driving up energy use and a year-long runup in natural gas wholesale prices caused by a variety of factors, including bad weather and supply chain disruptions.
If it felt colder this past month, you are right. December set a record for the longest stretch of cold temperatures seen in the past five years. San Diego’s average low was 49 degrees, and the average daytime high was 62. That translated into greater energy use to keep the thermostat at an ideal temperature. Historically, our customers tend to see higher bills during the months of December and January due to colder weather and even holiday lights.
Meanwhile, the wholesale market for natural gas has also seen double digit increases in prices. SDG&E not only buys natural gas on behalf of our customers who have gas appliances, we also buy natural gas to generate electricity for our customers. Therefore, an increase in natural gas prices also impacts the cost of electricity.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wholesale natural gas prices ended 2021 38% higher than at the start of the year. Customers who rely on natural gas to heat their home saw an almost immediate bill impact because gas procurement costs are updated monthly. The procurement cost for natural gas is a straight passthrough to our customers – meaning SDG&E does not mark up or make a profit selling more natural gas to our customers. We remain vigilant to make our operations more efficient and use a suite of tools to buy energy at the best possible prices for our customers.
Customers are encouraged log on to MyAccount.sdge.com to track their energy use and visit this dedicated webpage for winter energy savings tips. For bill payment assistance, visit sdge.com/assistance.