Natural gas prices increasing utility bills, PG&E says

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- PG&E officials say accelerating natural gas prices around the world are forcing rates to go up everywhere.

PG&E spokesperson Denny Boyles says the utility company is not to blame for the significant rise in prices.

But there are ways for customers to save on their bills.

"We want them to log into their account on our website, make sure their home is on the right rate plan," he said. "We also want to look at ways to spread that energy cost out if they need to, if they've had higher energy bills in the Winter than they expected."

Natural gas commodity prices began increasing last Spring only to skyrocket in the fall

Raul Gutierrez Jr. -- owner of Papi's Mex Grill -- says his northeast Fresno restaurant relies on natural gas to cook just about every dish that comes out of the kitchen.

"Anywhere from ranges to charbroilers, fryers, flat tops, our cooking process here is driven by gas powered equipment," he said.

Gutierrez says the economics of running a restaurant were already not favorable before the pandemic, but higher than normal gas rates combined with peak levels of inflation have compounded the issue of turning a profit these days.

That's why he says many establishments have started to increase menu prices

"When one thing goes up, you try to counterbalance it with a different product that maybe more affordable at the moment," he said. "Restaurant tours do this all the time."

PG&E is reminding customers they do not profit from the purchase of natural gas.

"What we pay for the commodity is what the customers pay and it's shown right on their bill," Boyles said. "It's very transparent. We're a regulated utility with the rates set by the state and our programs are set that way. That's why we spend so much time to get customers to conserve and help customers conserve."

Officials recommend leaving curtains and blinds open during the day to catch free heat from the sun -- while reversing ceiling fans will help push down heat to make it a bit more comfortable.
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