Today we are going to talk about the charges for Southern California Gas Company. We will look at it line by line so you walk away with a better understanding of what the charges are and how they are calculated. Our breakdown will be the example. We will break the charges down into 5 sections: dates, meter reads & therms, daily rate, tier rates, and fees. Here is the link to the latest rate sheet. GR rates are used to calculate your bill.
This is where your meter reads for the period and the dates they were taken on are found. They should be read between 26 and 35 days each cycle. Anything outside of that is considered unpredictable and hard to budget for. Another fun fact about meter reads is that they should not vary more than three days in either direction from cycle to cycle. For example, the read cycle for last month was 31 days and the read cycle for this month is 35 days. Best practices say this month should stop between 28 and 34 days. That leaves plenty of time to read around vacations, bad weather, and any other issues that crop up.
The meter reads show the usage in HCF for the billing period. We photograph your reads each month, so we can refer back as needed to resolve questions. The pictures are useful for utility checks, or when everyone’s usage and billing is reviewed. If someone has 150 HCF on the meter we can go back and verify the read internally before posting.
Gas is not billed by HCF even though that is what’s on the meter. It burns more efficiently at higher altitudes and less efficiently at lower altitudes. To keep things fair, each month the gas company assigns thermal factors to each region for how efficiently it burns. At higher altitudes, you might have a metered usage of 50, but be billed for 51.75 therms with a factor of 1.035. At lower altitudes, you might have a metered usage of 50 but billed for only 49.85 therms with a factor of 0.997. Your bill is calculated on therms and not HCF. Metered usage 50 x Therm Factor of 1.035 = 50.75 therms billed.
Next up is the daily charge. This is also called the Customer Charge, Readiness to Serve charge or Minimum charge. SoCalGas calls it the Customer Charge. It is calculated based on the number of days in the billing cycle. The standard daily rate is $0.16438 and the daily CARE rate is $0.131504. This rate is calculated by the day so you would take whichever one is applicable to you and multiply it by the days in the meter read cycle. For example, on the standard rate of $0.16438 per day * 30 days = $4.93 for the minimum charge for the month.
The baseline allocation is determined by zone and number of days in the billing cycle, much like electric rates. Summer baseline rates are a uniform 0.473 per day for all zones. Winter baseline runs from 1.691 to 2.950 per day. For those that qualify for medical baseline, an additional 0.822 per day is added to the baseline. You can qualify for more than one baseline allocation addition, depending on the equipment.
So, for coastal areas of California, your winter baseline allocation would be 1.691 units per day * 30 days = 50.73 units for the month. You then take your total usage and multiply it by the therm factor. For example, 80 units * 0.997 therm factor = 79.76. The baseline usage is billed at the lowest tier, $0.98417 per unit as of February 1, 2019. So, baseline is 50.73 * $0.98417 = $49.92694 and above baseline is 79.76 – 50.73 (baseline allocation) = 29.03 * $1.31657 = $38.22002. Total charges for usage equal $88.15.
The final section of your gas breakdown is the fees section. These include the Public Purpose Program Surcharge (or PPP) and the State Regulatory Fee (or SRF). These charges are billed by therm used. The PPP fee is $0.10060 per therm and the SRF is $0.00166 per therm.
Here is the tricky part. When the rates change, we do not have the space to create two separate breakdowns to accommodate the different charges. Instead we do what’s called rate blending, which is calculating the rates based on the days each is applicable in the read cycle. Gas rates change every month so you will never get a perfect match to the rate sheets.
Here is a sample of what our Southern California Gas breakdowns look like. Standard and CARE.
You may have heard about a CA Climate Credit for gas. We keep an eye on this and so far it has not happened. When it does, we will wait until it hits the master meter bill before passing it on to residents. You will see it a little later depending on when the bill gets forwarded to us. This item will show as a line item in the center section of the bill with the rent and other charges. The whole credit is applied as once since our system doesn’t carry over credits.
We talked about daily charges, how tiers are calculated, what rates are used, the differences between standard and CARE rates, fees, rate blending, and the CA Climate credit for your Southern California Gas charges. I hope this helped you gain a better understanding of your gas bill and the various charges on it.