Newsom urges federal probe into soaring prices for natural gas in California, other Western states

Gov. Gavin Newsom talks, gesturing with his left hand, as he gives the inaugural address after taking the oath of office
Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asking it to investigate wholesale prices of natural gas in California.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)
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Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote a letter Monday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urging it to investigate wholesale prices of natural gas in California and other Western states.

In the letter, addressed to FERC Chair Willie Phillips, Newsom cited a sharp rise since late November that has left Californians squeezed.

“These wholesale natural gas price increases were exacerbated by early cold weather in the Western states,” Newsom wrote, “but those known factors cannot explain the extent and longevity of the price spike.”

In addition to the impact on consumers and businesses, the letter listed sectors that have been adversely affected by higher prices for natural gas: industrial, agricultural, water and wastewater utilities.

Newsom referenced Tuesday’s joint meeting of the California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission, planned to explore causes of the price spike and possible protections for ratepayers.

The three top executives at Sempra Energy, the parent company of SoCalGas and SDG&E, made $40 million in 2021, with pension benefits of $60 million awaiting them at retirement.

Feb. 3, 2023

The governor asked FERC to “focus its investigatory resources on assessing whether market manipulation, anticompetitive behavior or other anomalous activities are driving these ongoing elevated prices in the Western gas markets.”


FERC regulates the interstate transmission and sale of electricity and natural gas. Spokesperson Mary O’Driscoll confirmed Monday that the agency had received the letter and planned to review it.