Opinion: Readers continue to rage over high SoCalGas bills. Now, they’re placing blame

Long Beach resident Brent Eldridge, 48, received a $907.13 gas bill in January.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Since the end of 2022, most of the words you’ve read in this space have been edited or written with stiff, frigid fingers. As with most people in Southern California who rely on fossil fuels to heat their homes — and as someone who does most of his work from home — I have been hit by higher bills from the Southern California Gas Co. So, I’ve set the thermostat to 55 degrees during the day and turned it off at night, only running the heater around the time my children wake up for school in the coldest part of the morning. It’s unpleasant but manageable.

Over the last several weeks, readers have shared similar tales of donning down jackets and gloves indoors and still receiving shockingly high SoCalGas bills. Their letters are still coming in, though they’ve changed from mostly expressing only dismay to assigning blame.

Personally, I’ve channeled much of this angry energy into researching the cost of replacing my gas furnace with an electric-powered heat pump (which both heats and cools). Perhaps in three more Februarys, I’ll be able to shed a layer.


To the editor: This recent price shock on our gas bills represents a failure of the free market.

In a genuine free market, consumers make choices about what they buy based on affordability. But hardly anyone was in a position to choose not to use natural gas as the prices shot up.


We simply don’t have any other option. We’re captive consumers, the suppliers’ favorite kind, but it means the market is very much not free.

We absolutely need a better way. I suggest transitioning away from gas as soon as possible.

Cullen Davis, North Hollywood


To the editor: A basic tenet of economics is the law of supply and demand. Our outrageous gas bills are the result of a shortage of natural gas at a time of peak demand.

Why is there a shortage? After all, California has plenty of natural gas in the ground, so why are we buying it from other states at high rates? The politicians who run our state are responsible for the shortage and the unbearable prices. The governor has waged war on fossil fuels.


The government officials and SoCalGas representatives I’ve contacted say lower my thermostat, use cold water in the laundry and turn down my water heater. They make it seem like it’s our fault.

It’s not our fault, it’s theirs, and as a result many Californians are suffering through cold nights and high gas bills. So why do we keep reelecting the same people?

Jim Blumel, Newhall


To the editor: We never have our thermostat set higher than 68 degrees. We had it off in January for two weeks because we were gone, yet our SoCalGas bill was more than $300.

We have to choose between keeping warm, eating or paying our rent. Since we can’t afford natural gas, we’ve turned off our heater, and we’re bundled up in jackets, sweatshirts and blankets.


My heating unit is new and energy efficient, and I’m still getting bills that are despicably high. What SoCalGas is doing to people is just unforgivable, and I know I’m not alone in thinking this.

Cathy Hardy, Arleta


To the editor: After the sticker shock of December’s natural gas usage, I turned the thermostat down from its usual 68 degrees and lowered the hot water heater. My January usage dropped by 25%, but my bill went up by 38%.

At the very least, public officials should reduce the taxes consumers are paying on natural gas usage until the price crisis is over.

Jo Pitesky, Studio City



To the editor: It makes me want to puke when I see people heating their swimming pool with gas in the middle of winter, and someone quoted in one of your articles did. Have they heard of solar heating? Global warming?

Excuse me if I have no sympathy for someone with rich peoples’ problems.

Mark Bergseid, Carlsbad


To the editor: The numerous articles on the astronomical home gas prices have missed an important point. How does a service company with 22 million customers and a parent company whose chief executive makes nearly $25 million per year not secure long- and medium-term contracts for their gas purchases?

Are we to believe that a company of this magnitude with this many customers left it to the spot market to price the product it sells? This company needs a major shakeup, and somebody need to be fired.


Michael Lombardi, Los Angeles


To the editor: Rather than simply reporting how record-high gas prices are driving people toward poverty, The Times should be utilizing its investigatory abilities to look into the skyrocketing profits of SoCalGas parent company Sempra.

Now that would be an article worth reading.

Bill Waxman, Simi Valley