Residents fear SoCalGas customers will 'freeze to death' trying to save money to pay sky-high bills

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Saturday, January 21, 2023
Residents fear SoCalGas customers will freeze saving for high bills
The utility company said January bills will likely be "shockingly high" as natural gas prices skyrocketed. Now, some residents fear some people might freeze to death trying to save money on heating their homes.

LANCASTER, Calif. (KABC) -- SoCalGas said natural gas prices reached "unprecedented levels" on the West Coast and warned customers that January bills will likely be "shockingly high."

The utility company cited higher demand for natural gas due to below-normal frigid temperatures in areas like the Antelope Valley and beyond.

Now, some residents in the high desert fear some people might freeze to death trying to save money on heating their homes.

"The majority of people and family members that I have, they only put the heater on gas on for about 15 or 20 minutes in the night and in the morning for the children because they cannot pay the bill," said Lancaster resident Char Lavelle. "They are working two jobs and they still can't afford it. So, it's really a bad thing right now."

SoCalGas has since created a webpage to help customers understand their bill.

With freezing temperatures hitting the Antelope Valley night after night, some people told ABC7 they're now exploring alternative methods to heat their homes to avoid being slammed with a gas bill they can't pay.

"Well I don't feel it's fair," said Lancaster resident Mark Mangold. "The squeaky wheel gets the attention. The more people complain, the better off it is."

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles County Fire Department is warning customers that using creative ways to heat your home to save a buck can be dangerous - or even deadly.

"It's never advisable to use anything other than installed systems like a furnace or a fire place when you try and heat your home," said Brian Rodela with LACoFD. "Using any other open flame devices can produce possible toxic gases and create an additional fire hazard in your house."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the reasons behind the price hike of natural gas included the following factors:

  • Widespread, below-normal temperatures
  • High natural gas consumption
  • Reduced natural gas flows
  • Pipeline constraints, including maintenance in West Texas
  • Low natural gas storage levels in the Pacific region
  • Earlier this month, SoCalGas announced it contributed $1 million toward its gas assistance fund, which gives one-time, $100 grants to qualifying applicants.