Southern California Gas Co. — a utility that serves nearly 22 million people from the Central Valley to the U.S.-Mexico border — hopes to raise rates in 2024.
The request comes as many gas customers are facing massive sticker shock due to increases in the wholesale price of natural gas, even though SoCalGas’ offer is unrelated to the fluctuations in the market. The company filed its application with the California Public Utilities Commission in May as part of a regular rate formation process.
Such proceedings take place every four years, with the PUC taking “a broad, in-depth look at a utility’s cost of operating and maintaining their system, and the allocation of that cost to customers,” said PUC spokesman Christopher Chow .
This process, which will also include public input, will determine the total amount that SoCalGas will be allowed to collect from customers in 2024-27.
The rates are ultimately determined by the PUC.
If SoCalGas’ rate request is approved in its entirety, “the average monthly bill for homes with 36 thermals per month in 2024 would increase by approximately $8.62 per month” compared to 2023, according to a company file.
The filing also calls for additional increases through 2027.
That’s what the company says the increases are necessary to modernize and upgrade infrastructure, “support the growth of more diverse renewable energy options” and retain and reward staff.
The rate request does not include the cost of the natural gas that customers use, which means customers may also still be subject to market fluctuations and increased rates.
The PUC stands firm two virtual forums where SoCalGas customers can provide input and feedback, one March 6 and the other March 15.
The CPUC takes too virtual public comments on its website, where many have already criticized the proposed rate increases.
“Listen PUC. … How dare SoCalGas ask for a rate increase! Our bill last month was $1,025!” one woman who identified as being from Woodland Hills wrote that her family stopped heating their home after 7 p.m. and wore three layers of clothing inside to keep warm.
Other angry commentators also cited recent Times reporting, noting that the CEO of Sempra Energy — the parent company of SoCalGas — received nearly $25 million in total compensation in 2021, despite net income falling that year.