Palm Springs explained: Why are natural gas bills so high this year?
You don’t need to look hard to find reports of natural gas bills doubling, even tripling, for many residents of Palm Springs this winter. Social media is full of posts from people receiving their bills and turning to their neighbors to express sticker shock. Why are your utility bills higher? To begin with, the price of natural gas went up dramatically in the last year. Below is a closer look at some of the forces at work and suggestions to help you save energy and money, courtesy of Candice Lee of SoCalGas’ Office of Media and Public Information.
Why are natural gas bills so high?
This winter, we’re seeing a significant increase in the market price for natural gas – in fact, the market, or commodity price, is almost double what it was a year ago. This is the main reason our customers are seeing higher bills. SoCalGas customers aren’t alone in this. Natural gas prices are high across the country and gas utilities do not control these commodity prices. The price of natural gas is determined by broader regional and national markets and passed on directly to our customers without any markup. We do not make a profit off of commodity costs.
When will prices decline?
The commodity cost of natural gas has increased significantly in the past couple of months and is expected to stay high throughout the winter. The commodity price for January is significantly higher than December, and about double the price from January 2021 due to higher prices in the market. But the good news is, we expect those prices to come down in the next month or two.
What caused this spike?
There have recently been two rate changes approved by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) in 2019 that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. New natural gas transportation rates went into effect Jan. 1, with average residential rates increasing by about 6% and small business by about 14% on average. Transportation rates help us maintain the safe, reliable natural gas system that our customers count on.
What tips do you have to lower natural gas bills?
Lowering your thermostat three to five degrees, if health permits, can save up to 10% on heating costs. Installing proper caulking and weather-stripping can save roughly 10% to 15% on heating and cooling bills. Washing clothes in cold water can save up to 10% on water-heating costs.
What if customers can’t pay their bills?
We offer a wide range of programs and services. We also offer programs for income-qualified customers – such as a rate discount or no-cost home weatherization services, additional gas at the lower baseline rate for customers with certain medical conditions, rebates on qualifying energy-efficient appliances or upgrades to your home. To sign up for these programs and services, or for more information on how to reduce winter gas bills, visit SoCalGas’ website at https://www.socalgas.com/winter or call 1-800-427-2200.
What financial assistance does SoCalGas provide?
Here are a few programs and resources we offer:
- Gas Assistance Fund: SoCalGas has partnered with United Way of Greater Los Angeles to provide customers who are having trouble paying their bill with a one-time grant for the amount of their gas bill, not to exceed $100.
- California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE): Eligible participants can save 20% on their natural gas bill. Go to this site to learn more about that.
- Energy Savings Assistance Program (ESAP): Eligible customers can save energy and money through professional home improvements at no cost. More information about the program is available at this site.
HOME MOVIES: Organizers of a Home Movie Day in the city are encouraging residents to dig through their boxes and bring home movies, on any format, to the event planned for Saturday, Feb. 19, at the Palm Springs Public Library. Palm Springs residents and film experts Melissa Dollman and Devin Orgeron will collect any contributions at the event, treat them with care, and include them in the showing, which runs for three hours starting at 1 p.m. Don’t have a movie? That’s not a problem. You can drop in at any time and watch. The organizers also plan to screen a variety of amateur film clips shot in and around Palm Springs. The free event is officially part of Modernism Week, and you can find more information at this Modernism Week page.
RE-OPENINGS: The Palm Springs Animal Shelter will reopen for normal business, including walk-in adoptions, starting today. You can visit the shelter’s website at www.psanimalshelter.org for more information about hours and to see available pets. On Tuesday, “due to an encouraging decline in COVID-19 cases,” City Hall and other city facilities will reopen to the public for walk-in service. Hours are 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and masks are still required to be worn.
TRAM RESCUE: Riverside County firefighters successfully rescued a person who fell from the top of the tram Saturday. The accident was reported shortly after 5 p.m., after a person fell about 75 feet over an embankment from a landing. A rope system was used to successfully rescue them, and the operation was completed at 7:21 p.m. The victim was unhurt by the fall, according to the department.
? Today’s events
Highlights of what’s happening today in Palm Springs. Find complete listings on our community calendar.
- The Mizell Center offers multiple programs and classes today, starting at 8 a.m. Find a complete list online here.
- Adult adoptees are invited to a support group meeting on Zoom at 3 p.m.
- The Human Rights Commission will present its annual Community Service Awards via Zoom at 5:30 p.m.
- The Palm Springs Sunshine Sisters are headed to the Stupid Cupid show at PS Underground at 7 p.m.
? What to watch for
- Palm Springs police will hold their first in a series of community meetings tomorrow afternoon, Feb. 15.
- Modernism Week – the city’s annual celebration of all things midcentury modern – takes place Feb. 17 through 27. Details are here.
- Desert Ensemble Theatre continues its season at the Palm Springs Cultural Center with the California premiere of Salty, starting Feb. 18.
- The Desert Art Center launches its Mid-Mod Show with a Tiki -Taki Luau Reception from 4 p.m. until 6pm. on Feb. 18.
- Palm Canyon Theatre has scheduled its next performance – Palm Springs Getaway – for three weekends starting on Feb. 25.
- McCormick’s 72nd Classic Car Auction is scheduled for Feb. 25-27.
- Heart-to-Heart Palm Springs is selling tickets for its March 12 Military Women Appreciation Luncheon. Details are here.
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