Congressman Salud Carbajal (CA-24) led a group of 15 members of California’s congressional delegation in calling for a federal investigation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission into recent spikes in home energy costs.
“With unexpectedly high home gas prices, we have heard stories from our constituents who have had to make the hard choice between staying warm at night or not having enough funds to buy groceries for the week,” the lawmakers wrote. “Therefore, we ask that you move expeditiously and open an investigation to ensure there are no unfair market manipulation or anti-competitive practices that are hurting many of our constituents across the state of California.”
The lawmakers cite data from the California Public Utilities Commission that shows that despite a nationwide decline in natural gas prices, California ratepayers have seen dramatic spikes in their utility bills – with some in California paying more than double what they paid the previous year.
The letter sent to FERC Chair Willie Phillips was signed by Carbajal, House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar (CA-31), and California Reps. Nanette Barragán, Julia Brownley, Tony Cárdenas, J. Luis Correa, Mark DeSaulnier, Jimmy Gomez, Barbara Lee, Ted Lieu, Jimmy Panetta, Katie Porter, Linda Sánchez, Adam Schiff, and Mark Takano.
The full text of their letter can be found HERE and below:
We write to express our concerns regarding the significant rise in natural gas prices across California and urge you to begin an investigation into determining if there are anti-competitive practices or market manipulation activities driving up the costs of home gas prices across our state. This is an issue of deep importance as many of our constituents are suffering economic hardships posed by these extremely high utility gas costs.
Data shared by the California Public Utilities Commission found that average home gas bills for PG&E customers in Northern California rose from $151 to $195. Meanwhile, SoCalGas customers’ prices more than doubled compared to the previous year—rising from an average of $123 to $300. This contrasts with natural gas prices falling by an average of 50 percent across the country based on recent analysis.
We understand that the U.S. Energy Information Agency has asserted that the spike in natural gas prices is due to an array of different issues like widespread below-normal temperatures, high gas use, lower imports of natural gas from Canada, gas pipeline constraints, and lower gas storage levels in the Pacific region. While a colder than usual winter has exacerbated the current supply of natural gas, this is not a unique issue to the Western United States or California.
We are pleased with the actions the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has taken in response to the unexpected rise in home utility gas prices. The CPUC has accelerated the delivery of payments of annual gas and electric credits to consumers. However, this is not a long-term solution and consumers need certainty as they plan their home budgets. With unexpectedly high home gas prices, we have heard stories from our constituents who have had to make the hard choice between staying warm at night or not having enough funds to buy groceries for the week.
Therefore, we ask that you move expeditiously and open an investigation to ensure there are no unfair market manipulation or anti-competitive practices that are hurting many of our constituents across the state of California. We stand ready to provide any assistance.