The monthly cost of natural gas for Southern California customers of Southwest Gas Corp. will rise on average 5.2 percent starting in January.
The utility asked for regional rate increases that would have resulted in a double-digit hike in consumers’ bills, the Office of Ratepayer Advocates said. The ORA is an independent division of the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates and approves utilities pricing.
A Southern California user’s average monthly bill will rise $3 a month, from $57.56 to $60.56, the ORA said. A Southwest Gas spokeswoman said Victorville residents can expect an increase averaging $3.18 a month.
Though the rate increase is “more reasonable” than what Southwest Gas originally requested, the ORA said it is disappointed the Thursday decision granted a 10.1 percent return-on-equity to the utility company in California vs. a 9.5 percent ROE in Arizona “where they have significantly larger operations.”
Southwest Gas spokeswoman Cynthia Messina said the rate-case approval by the CPUC allows the company to continue safely and reliably providing natural gas to customers.
“The CPUC decision did give us the OK to offer our residential and commercial customers new rebates,” Messina said.
Southwest Gas will be able to expand its current support to lowincome users and add rebate programs in line with its energy-efficiency programs later this year, she said. More information will be available at www.swgas.com later this year, Messina said.
Gary Brodeur may be contacted at 760-951-6245 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DP_gbrodeur.