LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Due to a sharp rise in natural gas
costs nationwide, customers of Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company)
can expect to see higher utility bills this winter and the utility is
launching an information campaign this week to raise awareness of the national
"Natural gas prices, like other energy costs, have increased significantly
over the past year, not only in Southern California, but across the country,"
said Edwin A. Guiles, chairman of The Gas Company.
The Gas Company's campaign will include ads in major local newspapers and
on radio stations, inserts in gas bills and direct mailings to alert customers
to higher gas prices, explain the reasons for the increases and outline their
options to take greater control of their gas bills. The campaign begins this
week and will intensify as winter approaches.
Guiles said The Gas Company is projecting that the monthly natural gas
winter bill for a typical residential customer will increase about $20, to
$70 from $50. The projection is based on the upward spike in wholesale
natural gas prices, which have doubled this year -- a trend that industry
analysts say is likely to continue.
The Gas Company buys natural gas on behalf of its customers primarily from
"Historically we have been very successful in shopping for the best prices
for our customers, and we intend to stay diligent this winter in our gas
purchases," said Guiles.
"Our No. 1 goal is to ensure reliable delivery of natural gas to our
customers, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. We are concerned about the impact
increased natural gas prices will have on our customers and will work with
them to find ways to reduce usage and manage gas bills," he added.
The Gas Company offers a number of energy-efficiency programs and
services, payment options and limited-income assistance. Customers are
encouraged to visit the company's Web site at www.socalgas.com or call
1-800-427-2200 for information.
Guiles cited several reasons for the rise in natural gas prices: increased
demand by electric generators, who are using an unprecedented amount of gas to
fuel their power plants; a temporarily tight supply due to slow growth in new
production in the late 1990s; and a robust, energy-draining economy.
Historically, peak usage of natural gas has occurred in the winter when
there is increased usage by customers for heating their homes and businesses.
Natural gas is injected into storage fields in the summer when gas demand is
traditionally low. But the unusually high demand this summer has resulted in
lower-than-expected gas storage levels nationwide.
This summer's peak usage of natural gas in The Gas Company's system for
the first time exceeded the previous winter's peak. Despite this high summer
usage, The Gas Company expects to have an ample supply of natural gas this
Because the United States has enjoyed a strong economy for the past
several years, demand for all forms of energy has increased. Since about
two-thirds of all natural gas consumed in the nation is used by factories,
other industrial customers and electric generation plants, ongoing economic
growth continues to push natural gas demand.
Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) is the nation's largest
natural gas distribution utility serving 18 million consumers through
5 million meters. The company's service territory encompasses 23,000 square
miles throughout central and Southern California. The Gas Company is a
subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), a energy services holding company
based in San Diego, with 12,000 employees, revenues of nearly $5.5 billion and
serving more than 9 million customers in the United States, Europe, Canada,
Mexico and South America.
SOURCE Southern California Gas Company