My JAN 2023 residential natural gas bill rocketed up 178%

On 12/29/2022, my natural gas utility, SoCalGas (formerly Southern California Gas Company), provided the following heads up about substantial upcoming higher gas bills at its Newsroom site:

There’s no easy way to put this: January bills are likely to be shockingly high. An unprecedented cold snap across the nation in part has caused natural gas market prices in the West to more than double between December and January – to the tune of 128% since December.
While we don’t set these prices (they’re set by regional and national markets), nor does SoCalGas actually profit from rising prices, we want our customers to know that we understand that this may be a shock and a hardship for some.

Several unprecedented events occurring simultaneously over the last few weeks have contributed to the rising price of natural gas. For more information on natural gas prices and predictions, visit Natural Gas Weekly Update
• Widespread, below-normal temperatures
• High natural gas consumption
• Reduced natural gas flows
• Pipeline constraints, including maintenance in West Texas

Customers can expect to see changes in their natural gas bills this winter due to the rise in natural gas prices. If your residential peak winter bill was around $65 last winter, you can expect to see bills closer to $160 this year. Similarly, if it was around $130 last winter, customers can expect to see bills around $315 this year. These increases are primarily due to increases in the price of gas and to a much lesser extent increased transportation rates. Our rates for the transportation of natural gas are set by the California Public Utilities Commission, which reviews those rates yearly.

I just received my SoCalGas bill for January 2023, that showed a whopping 178% increase in total charges of $482.16 for 105 therms over a 29 day-period compared to January 2022 $173.27 for 88 therms over a 32-day period.

The primary cause was a shocking 296% increase in the Gas Commodity Cost per therm from $0.83 in Jan 2022 to $3.28 in Jan 2023. The $344.79 Gas Commodity Cost for JAN 2023 accounted for 72% of the $482.16 Total Charges for JAN 2023.

Historically, January is my peak natural gas usage month (I have a gas-fired furnace). June through October are normally my lowest usage for natural gas appliances (cooktop, laundry dryer, water heater) with 2022 monthly total charges within the range of $18 to $31 per month. SoCalGas does a great service giving tips to lowering usage and mailing its residential customers a quarterly comparison of their natural gas usage (rating high, medium, low) with others by zip code.

Regarding using wood burning fireplaces to heat homes in Southern California, I’d like to mention that on several occasions in December 2022, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) issued a wood burning ban for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties because air pollution levels were expected to be high. SCAQMD has in place a Check Before You Burn program at this website.

November marks the start of South Coast AQMD’s annual Check Before You Burn season. From November through the end of February, residents are asked to check before burning wood in their fireplaces to limit emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
A No-Burn day is a 24-hour ban on wood-burning in residential fireplaces, stoves or outdoor fire pits in the South Coast Air Basin. South Coast AQMD forecasters call for residential No-Burn Days when PM2.5 is expected to reach Unhealthy levels due to air emissions and stagnant weather conditions.
South Coast AQMD’s No-Burn Day alerts do not apply to mountain communities above 3,000 feet in elevation, the Coachella Valley or High Desert, homes that rely on wood as a sole source of heat, low income households and those without natural gas service. Gas and other non-wood burning fireplaces are also exempt.

I stopped using my residential wood burning and natural gas-fired fireplace a long-time ago.



San Diego Gas & Electric customers also saw a big increase. However, SDG&E now says bills should come down starting this month.

After reaching historic highs this winter due to what SDG&E called “unprecedented market conditions in the Western United States,” the commodity price of natural gas decreased by 68% from January’s prices, from $3.45 per therm to $1.11 per therm. The price per therm was $2.36 in January 2022, as a comparison.

Nat gas prices have generally fallen since the peak last summer. I don’t know why SoCalGas and SDG&E saw such an increase recently. They might have been locked into contracts at higher prices, so now, with those contracts expired, they can take advantage of the current low price.

Electricity costs in California remain very high compared to other western states.

  • Pete
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I believe the planning for raising electric rates was done prior to November 1. Since then NG has fallen further. At least in New England or CT the electric depends on NG fired plants.

As @waterfell wrote, they may have been locked into contracts from last year. Hopefully, you will benefit soon from falling natgas prices.


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I have mentioned before, I ran one winter on a wood burning stove in the basement (as an experiment) at our last house. While the heat was adequate, it was sometimes a PITA going out to reload the stockpile, and I didn’t want to bring it too much at a time because of ants/termites/etc in the distant stash in the woods.

And within a few weeks I could tell the particulates in the air were significantly higher. My breathing became labored, but I persevered for most of the winter.

Come to this house, no wood burning stove but a fireplace for atmosphere in the living room, which we had converted to propane, and now read all the stories about how that’s bad for you too thanks to CO2 or sulfur dioxide or whatever, and that leaves “electric” as the only option.

So one of those fakey plastic flames things with a lightbulb in it and a horizontal rotating sleeve to mimic movement?

I’d rather suffocate.

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I didn’t save the email, so I don’t have numbers, but my natural gas utility said that we can look forward to paying less for nat gas starting with the next bill. It’s been an abnormally warm winter in Michigan ( except for today, lol, bitter cold out today ), so have not even payed much attention to heating costs so far.

I used to feel the same way about electric fireplaces, but they have come a long way from the old ones you describe. Even gas fireplaces don’t come close to the real thing, IMO, and probably the best thing you can say about the new electric fireplaces is that they are on par with the gas ones. We almost never use our gas FP, because I find them boring without the sounds and character of a wood fire, and our gas furnace does a better job of heating.

We do have a wood burning stove in the lower level which I love. Yes, a bit of a pita, but to get the bones of the house warm and have the heat radiate up through the floors is completely lovely. Once cold, I fling the well burned fine ash on the lawn, and put the charcoal pieces in the compost pile to balance off the coffee grind acidity and improve water retention. I have used the wood stove for weeks at a time, though it doesn’t stop the furnace from running. No doubt if all the homes in our neighborhood did this, there could be a big decline in air quality, but I don’t notice a problem indoors and frankly am not inclined to be outdoors long in the winter.

We took down quite a few trees when we moved in to increase the water view. I don’t know if I would be using this wood stove quite so much if there were not a pile of split wood to use. Price of firewood has gone through the roof. If the state forces us to cut down all the trees on the dam, there will be decades of supply for the entire neighborhood. Definitely prefer to use the natural gas via the central heat rather than the gas fireplace though.


We heated with a wood stove exclusively for 8 years while living in remote areas in Utah in the 1980s. I liked the radiant heat but got tired of the cutting, splitting and hauling of all that wood. Glad to give it up.

Are nat gas bill from KUB (Knoxville Utility Board) went up 12% YOY per therm. Had been a steady 2% over that past 4 years.

FYI, our electricity increased 3% YOY per kWh. The TVA produces electricity from just about every source. Water was the biggest increase, 40% per 100 gal but that was due to a recent rate hike to pay for improvements/upgrades/expansion (too many people moving to Knoxville area). Overall, utilities are still cheaper than national average.

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