San Diego SDG&E customers ‘shocked’ over 2022 utility rate increases

DOWNTOWN (KUSI) – To begin the new year, San Diego Gas & Electric customers have been experiencing a new rise in costs for utilities. Some customers reported a double-digit increase in their bill during the month of January. The utility company’s website cited a list of reasons contributing to the price hikes, including commodity fuel prices and legislative mandates.

SDG&E released a statement on their website explaining the updated prices are implemented at the start of every year. The company said there is no ideal time for an increase of rates, and that they are always looking for ways to improve operations. The statement reads in part: 

“Even so, surging natural gas prices – along with the ongoing need to strengthen safety, reliability and sustainability and provide public benefit programs – are creating challenges.”

David De Le Torre is one of those customers shocked to open his bill for the month of January. 

“I own a few properties and I’ve been noticing this month that the bill has gone up dramatically,” said De Le Torre. “My bill went from $318 last month to $454 this month — that’s dramatic. It’s about a 43% increase.”

Critics of the skyrocketing rates, like attorney Maria Severson, accuse the utility company of not being transparent about the rise in costs. They said the increasing price for natural gas was a major factor.

“That is SDG&E’s problem to absorb. They shouldn’t pass it on,” Severson said. “Does it lower rates when times are good? Of course not. Basically, it’s only when their cost goes up that they pass it on to other customers. It’s a one-way street.”

Severson cited the new franchise agreement passed in May of 2021 between the City of San Diego and SDG&E that removed protective measures to keep prices low. 

“If San Diego citizens want to know why their rates are so high, they need look no further than the San Diego city government,” Severson said. “The mayor put out a franchise to bid in May 2021, and six city councilmembers with the exception of three.”

A report from the City Attorney’s Office to the mayor describes the differences between what was advertised in the invitation to bid and what was recommended to the city council. Section 12-B of the report shows that the requirement for SDG&E to use best efforts to minimize service costs had been deleted. 

“It’s a big decision for them to take it out and an even bigger decision for our city government to go along with it,” Severson said.

Critics argue that the reason for rising costs is because the city is now officially locked into a 10-year contract.

“When you have a monopoly that holds a franchise for the City of San Diego, and when they removed the obligation in the contract to use best efforts to keep prices low, you establish a situation that we have here. When gas prices go up, they charge customers more. When they go down, customers don’t see that benefit,” said Severson.

As of Monday, SDG&E had not responded to KUSI’s request for comment on the story.

KUSI’s Hunter Sowards’ full report has all the details.

Categories: Good Evening San Diego, Local San Diego News, Politics