L.A. Urges State to Probe High So Cal Gas Bills

The Los Angeles City Council has called on the state’s public utilities watchdog to investigate suspicious bill increases from Southern California Gas Co. that some residents believe to be tied to the recent natural gas leak near Porter Ranch. The council voted 12-0 to support the resolution Friday amid numerous complaints from So Cal Gas customers, some of whom have seen their bills triple or quadruple in just the past month.

“It’s suspicious,” said Council Member Mitch Englander, who authored the resolution. “A lot of people are concerned, and they’re coming out of the woodwork. They can’t afford it.”

The suspicion is that the company may be gouging its customers to make up for the money it has lost as a result of the Aliso Canyon leak. Legal experts say the breach could end up costing the company billions of dollars. Some have also questioned whether a new smart reader system may be to blame.

Many of the complaints have come from Porter Ranch residents who were forced to evacuate as a result of the leak. Despite the fact that their homes are vacant, they’ve received bills “double or triple” the normal amount, Englander said. The issue seems to be affecting customers far and wide, however. Englander himself recently received a gas bill for more than three times the normal amount.

So Cal Gas officials have denied any wrongdoing, saying higher gas bills are par for the course during winter months. The month of December was particular cold, they note, resulting in a 31 percent spike in gas usage among customers.

The leak was finally capped last week, bringing a welcome end to the troubling four-month saga. But, for So Cal Gas, the problems may just be beginning.

Read more about Friday’s resolution here.