FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Utility companies across California have a warning for customers: your bills will be noticeably high.
This wet and chilly winter across Central California has many people staying inside and running our heaters more, and at the same time - natural gas prices are surging.
As of this week, PG&E projects that residential energy bills will be about 32% higher from November through March, in comparison to that same time period last year.
Customers will have to now budget more toward their monthly bills, a pain for those on a fixed income like Walter Dunn. He's an Air Force Veteran.
On Friday, he was outside the PG&E building in downtown Fresno hoping to find answers about his bill. "It would be nice if someone would tell us something," he said. "When I think about what it was two months ago, and then the last bill I saw was double, it was almost doubled and I said wait a minute, I'm not knowingly using that much more electricity."
According to Utilities, natural gas prices have been rising -- driven by higher demand and tighter supplies on the West Coast -- and global price increases after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It's not just gas bills going up, but a large portion of California's electricity comes from natural gas-fired power plants.
So Cal Gas, which serves the South Valley, had a pretty direct warning for their customers, stating, "January bills are likely to be shockingly high."
"(The company) does not control the market prices for gas and electricity, and like other utilities, PG&E does not mark up the cost of the gas and electricity that we purchase on behalf of our customers. The prices that PG&E pays for natural gas to deliver to our customers have been rising this year," A PG&E spokesperson said
Fresno City Mayor Jerry Dyer points out that the other fees PG&E charges have also risen to levels he said are "unacceptable."
"We've had a 39% increase in PG&E in the last three years and this year another 36.2% they're recommending to the PUC, it's not sustainable," Dyer said
The California Public Utilities Commission will make decide whether to approve the rates recommended by PG&E or not.
Mayor Dyer said the CPUC makes its decision based on feedback from the community.
"I'm encouraging the people of Fresno, don't take it laying down. Don't just let these PGE rates increase right before us. They have a voice they need to exercise it and I'm going to be exercising my voice as the mayor," he said.
PG&E is actively engaging with federal and state regulators, policymakers, and lawmakers on ways to provide bill relief to customers. One example could come soon through the annual Climate Credit.
Separately, more than 300,000 customers who experienced financial hardships during the pandemic will receive an automatic one-time bill credit before Feb. 3 under the California Arrearage Payment Program. Amounts vary.
For more ways on how to reduce your energy usage, click here.
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