Here’s how high PG&E says your bill could get during this historically cold, wet winter in California

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) — Utility companies across the state are issuing a warning to Californians: Prepare for higher bills.

Unfortunately, this is just in time for the Bay Area to see freezing temperatures in the coming days.

California’s trademark warm weather has really been anything but that in 2023.

Historic rain, now followed by freezing temperatures across the Bay Area is leading to higher than ever gas and electric bills according to T.U.R.N., The Utility Reform Network.

“Hundreds of people are calling to say they can’t afford to pay their bills, they’re afraid of being shut off,” T.U.R.N. executive director Mark Toney said. “They’re cutting back on their prescriptions, cutting back on food. People should not be faced with the choice of heat or eat.”

MORE: PG&E customers could be hit with rate hike of more than $760 over 2 years

Unfortunately, PG&E tells us they’re expecting a 32% increase to bills this winter compared to last.

Natural gas bills alone five times higher in California than benchmark prices in the U.S. last week.

PG&E Spokeswoman Mayra Tostado says the company does not control market prices for natural gas or electricity, supply and demand does.

“PG&E customers have already used more natural gas than the five-year historic average,” Tostado said. “So, this is a historic winter where we are seeing very cold temperatures, a lot of freeze warnings, and that’s impacting the price of natural gas on the west coast.”

Tostado says that means customers could see bills around $80 higher than previous winters.

MORE: Data shows one-fifth of SF metro area households are struggling to pay rising utility costs

A climate credit from the California Public Utilities Commission is being voted on Thursday to provide some relief.

But Toney says the CPUC needs to consider other measures.

“What we need to do is to get the California Public Utilities Commission to set a cap on rate increases,” Toney said. “I’m talking about, why should utility rates go up any higher than the rate of inflation.”

Until that time, energy savings expert Cyndi Bray says washing clothes in cold water and drying them on low and turning down your thermostat and water heater a few degrees can help people save money on utilities.

“These simple tips will make a big difference, immediately in your energy bills,” Bray said. “You’ll notice right away.”

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