SoCalGas sticker shock: Increase in bills feels like 'highway robbery,' some customers say

PORTER RANCH, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Joni Hoffman and Joette Snyder, who both live in the same community in Porter Ranch, say their SoCalGas bills went up dramatically in the past month - from $45 to $198 for Joette and from $57 to $237 for Joni.

"This is like highway robbery," said Joni Hoffman. "I mean I understand raising prices I get that everyone does that but not 300%."

Both Joni and Joette keep their thermostats low and only run the heat for a few hours at night

"I pay those bills. I pay the gas bill - that comes out of my social security," said Joette Snyder. "I pay those bills and that's what I've got so yeah, I'm like what the heck, gee."

SoCalGas says bills are usually at their highest all year during the winter when more natural gas is needed to heat homes and run appliances. Also the California Public Utilities Comission approved a rate hike effective this year to help upgrade infrastructure.

"December and January tend to be the highest months for our customers. Because it's only two months it's often a surprise," said Gillian Wright, senior vice president for SoCalGas. "People are very used to the rest of the year, which we're very proud of when the gas bill is low and doesn't require a lot of thought."

The gas company says there are many resources on their website about how to lower gas use and different options to pay the bill.

"You can get help paying your bill, you can get more time, we can provide payment plans," said Wright.

Wright says gas prices should go back down in February.

"How do they expect people to afford this?" says Hoffman.

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