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UCAN denounces rate hikes as unaffordable for consumersSDG&E has assistance programs, energy saving tips

East County News Service


January 4, 2023 (San Diego)  Effective January 1, San Diego Gas & Electric is more than doubling natural gas rates. SDG&E is also raising electricity rates, since natural gas generates 40% of electricity in the U.S. The utility cites the rising cost of natural gas nationwide as the main reason for raising rates. The national spike is due in part to record cold across much of the nation that has depleted supplies, as well as the U.S. exporting some natural gas to aid European allies cut off by Russia due to the Ukraine War.

But in an interview with East County Magazine today, Utility Consumer Action Network (UCAN) executive director Edward Lopez pointed out that SDG&E paid out hefty profits to its shareholders in 2022 and called on regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission to protect affordability of utility rates for consumers.


Gas rates for consumers more than double


The cost per therm for natural gas more than doubled from $2.36 in January 2022 to $5.11 in January 2023. According to SDG&E, if your household peak winter gas bill was $105 last January, you can expect your January 2023 bill to be about $225. Customers who are enrolled in the CARE bill discount program could see their January gas bill increase from around $60 to $130. 


Electric rate increases


A typical SDG&E residential customer may see their average monthly electric bill increase by about $25, from roughly $160 to $185 starting this January, according to SDG&E. Customers who are enrolled in the CARE bill discount program could see their monthly electric bills increase from $105 to around $120.  


Community  Choice customers will see lower rate increases


Many consumers are now buying gas and electricity from Community Choice Aggregation options instead of from SDG&E.  But CCAs pay SDG&E for delivery of power through its powerlines and pipeline, so CCA residential customers can expect a more modest $10 a month increase, from $125 to about $135.  CCA customers who are enrolled in the CARE bill discount program could see their monthly electric delivery charges increase by $5, from about $80 to $85. 




“We understand the challenges customers are facing as the cost of goods and services across the board continues to increase. While not good news, we want to make sure our customers are prepared for significantly higher winter bills, and more importantly, that there are tools and resources, including financial assistance available, given the severity of natural gas market conditions,” said SDG&E Vice President of Customer Services Dana Golan. “Please know that we are here to help and work with our customers who may be struggling financially.”  (See details on programs below under Assistance Programs.)


UCAN speaks out for consumers


UCAN’s executive director says SDG&E’s January price hikes exceed what the utility had previously warned about late last year.  The hike follows a cold spell when many consumers are already struggling to pay their bills.


“UCAN has had members calling all through the holidays asking for help and trying to deal with their increased utility bills,” Lopez told ECM. He said the price hikes are forcing some consumers to make tough choices on how to use energy and even which bills they can afford to pay.


He puts the blame in part on state regulators at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).  “UCAN certainly believes and has argued that the regulators at the Commission have to do a stronger job of regulating the utilities and assuring that utility costs are truly affordable.” SDG&E rates have escalated for decades, with San Diego among the least affordable energy markets in the nation for years.  


Lopez acknowledges that reduced natural gas reserves due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, coupled with cold weather increasing natural gas usage, have impacting the commodity rate. While there is no administrative appeal or process to claw back the recent rate hike, Lopez says there are other proceedings before the CPUC that could rein in future rate hikes and make other changes to make energy more affordable.


A key goal would be a shift away from natural gas power plants and even renewable ones in remote locations, such as wind farms in the desert. But that’s what utilities want to invest in, since they now make their money off transmission, not generation, as many consumers shift to CCAs.  


CCAs in theory can buy from power generated locally, but the problem is SDG&E has already bought up contracts for most new power sources coming online, Lopez notes. But he says SDG&E and other utilities are investing in “antiquated projects that don’t align with new goals of distributed energy resources, local projects sources—in otherw osres, transitioning to a newer model of the grid.”


The future could include another alternative: Municipal Utility Districts, where a city or county takes over powerproduction and opts to build local microgrids, such as a solar microgrid that now powers Borrego Springs.  


New rate hikes loom; hearing slated


The CPUC later this month is expected to hold a virtual hearing on yet another rate hike proposal by SDG&E, this one a general rate hike. ECM will publish details on this hearing when available.  UCAN’s director encourages members of the public to participate and testify, and also to contact state legislators and ask them to help push for regulatory reforms.


“We need a new regulatory model that doesn’t allow an investor-owned utility to make such an unreasonable amount of profit,” Lopez asserts.  “It’s up to regulators to make harder decisions – and those should be based on what is truly affordable, and what is not.”


Assistance Programs 


Customers who wish to have more predictable bills month to month – even out high-bill months with low-bill months – are encouraged to sign up for our Level Pay program l


Additionally, SDG&E offers a variety of assistance programs, including bill discounts, debt relief, payment plans and energy efficiency programs. Learn more at 


Ways to Cut Your Winter Energy Bill 


SDG&E has created a dedicated webpage with tools and tips to help customers cut their winter energy bill. Check it out at Energy Management - Winter | San Diego Gas & Electric ( Here are some easy ways to reduce energy use: 


• Lower your thermostat: You can save as much as 10% per year on heating and cooling by turning your thermostat down 7-10 °F for 8 hours a day in the fall and winter, health permitting. 
• Control humidity: Instead of reaching for the thermostat, use a humidifier to keep your home humidity between 30 and 50%. You'll feel warmer with some humidity in the air. 
• Wash with cold water: Washing clothes in cold water can save you up to 10% on water heating costs 
• Stop the breeze: Caulk and weather-strip around drafty doors and windows.  
• Reduce use of non-essential appliances: Spas, pool heaters and fireplaces can use a significant amount of gas or electricity.  


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this company is returning to

what they were called in the 1970's san diego gouge and electric....took a closer look at the compensation packages for executives at Sempra Energy and SDG&E, CEO Jeffrey W. Martin is the top man at San Diego Gas & Electric’s parent company, Sempra Energy. He made more than $23 million in total compensation in 2020 (the latest year where salary information is available in Sempra’s public SEC filings). ..... they don't more money from us!!!....they need to reduce this outrageous salary!!!

Sempra Energy, a San Diego-based Fortune 500

energy services holding company last year sold a 10% non-controlling interest in Sempra Infrastructure Partners (Sempra Infrastructure) for $1.73 billion in cash to a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA). The ruler of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates is Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed.