Friday, November 18, 2005

CPUC approves plan to ease natural gas price shock

With inadequate supplies of natural gas, utilities are scrambling to find ways to help their customers pay this winter.

Southern California Gas Co. (The Gas Company) today received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) of a project that will provide an additional benefit this winter for the utility's low-income customers enrolled in the California Alternate Rates For Energy (CARE) program.

The utility has developed a plan to re-drill some natural gas wells in two of its underground storage fields that will enable it to withdraw natural gas stored many years ago at a very low cost. By withdrawing low-cost natural gas this winter to serve customers, The Gas Company can avoid buying an equivalent amount of natural gas at high prices. The result of this project can help CARE customers to avoid nearly $48 million in natural gas costs over this winter, based on the projection of winter gas prices at the time of the utility's CPUC filing.

The Gas Company is working to help natural gas customers manage their bills in what may be record-high prices this winter, caused by a very tight supply-demand balance in the national market.

The PUC could also help by finding ways to get more supplies into the State!