Long Beach Utilities announces significant reduction in natural gas prices for March
Long Beach Utilities has announced a significant reduction in natural gas prices for March, with a decrease of 45% from the previous month.
The cost per therm for customers was $1.28 in February and will drop to approximately 71 cents per therm in March, amounting to a reduction of 18% from the January pricing of $3.81 per therm.
Long Beach Utilities General Manager Chris Garner has said the decrease is welcome news for customers and the department is committed to helping customers recover from the recent price spikes and ensuring greater price stability in the future. The decrease is due to a drop in demand as spring approaches and completed pipeline maintenance that had reduced the volume of natural gas being transported into California during the winter. SoCalGas, which provides gas to almost every city in the region except for Long Beach and Signal Hill, has also reported a similar decrease in prices.
The lower prices will result in substantial savings for residents, with this being the lowest rate paid by Long Beach utilities customers since April 2022, when the charge assessed to customers was around 52 cents per therm. The recent winter storm, which brought cold weather, wind, and snow to Long Beach, has made the decrease in gas prices even more welcome. However, cold weather is expected to persist for at least another week, with nighttime temperatures projected to be in the low 40s over the next 10 days.
In response to the high gas bills in December and January, the Utilities Commission approved a $7.5 million relief fund to help customers pay their bills. The fund provided a one-time credit of $45 to all account holders and larger additional credits to low-income seniors or those with disabilities ($200) and other low-income households ($150). Low-income households must sign up for the department’s subsidy programs by the end of March to be eligible for these credits. The commission reserved $575,000 of that fund to help people who self-attested to having a financial need, even if they were not low income. Those account holders are eligible for a $100 credit.
Lauren Howland, a spokesperson for the Long Beach department, said that while the department has made progress in getting people signed up for these savings programs, there are still credits that have gone unclaimed. She added that the department has issued 6,633 bill credits across all categories, with the most coming from the low-income category (3,319), representing around $7 million in aid. The department estimated that the $575,000 in funds set aside could help 5,750 households. To apply for assistance, customers can visit the Utilities Department website.