San Diego Gas & Electric's rate for natural gas has doubled compared to last month, with the price per therm jumping from $2.55 in December to $5.11 in January. If your household gas bill came to about $105 last January, SDG&E now estimates this month’s bill will come to about $225. That’s an increase of 114 percent.
The new record high price is due to the rising cost of natural gas, which the utility has passed on to customers dollar for dollar.
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And for those that need financial assistance to help pay for ever-escalating energy costs, these programs may offer assistance.
SDG&E customers can access several bill assistance programs.
The California Alternate Rates for Energy, or CARE, program lowers natural gas rates by 20 percent for qualified households.
You’re eligible if you’re enrolled in a safety-net program such as Medi-Cal or CalFresh, or if your income is no more than roughly twice the federal poverty level (for example, a maximum of $46,060 for a family of three).
However, even lower-income customers on the CARE program who use natural gas can expect to see their January gas bill go up, from $60 to $130.
For households with slightly higher incomes, the Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) program gives an 18 percent discount. A household of three must earn between $46,061 and $57,575.
SDG&E also runs a one-time bill payment fund, with up to $300 grants for people who don’t qualify for other programs.
The federal government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program “provides federally funded assistance to reduce the costs associated with home energy bills, energy crises, weatherization, and minor energy-related home repairs,” according to the program’s website.
Here’s California’s portal: https://www.csd.ca.gov/find-assistance.