EDITORS: Please do not use
"Pacific Gas and Electric" or "PG&E" when
referring to PG&E Corporation or its National Energy Group.
The PG&E National Energy Group is not the same company as Pacific
Gas and Electric Company, the utility, and is not regulated by the
California Public Utilities Commission. Customers of Pacific Gas
and Electric Company do not have to buy products or services from
the National Energy Group in order to continue to receive quality
regulated services from Pacific Gas and Electric Company.
PRICES 60 PERCENT LOWER THAN LAST JANUARY
New Year Outlook: Natural
Gas Prices More Reflective of Winter Costs
SAN FRANCISCO - Last January,
in the midst of an energy crisis, alleged market manipulation, and
low supplies-coupled with cold weather nationwide-the price of natural
gas in California rose to historic levels.
While costs spiked last
year, it is important to note that Pacific Gas and Electric Company
passes the commodity cost it incurs directly to its customers without
marking up the price. Conversely, lower prices are also passed directly
on to its customers.
In response to the high
costs last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is considering
allegations by the California Public Utilities Commission and other
parties that El Paso Natural Gas companies withheld capacity thereby
driving up natural gas prices.
In January 2001, the cost
of natural gas hit an all time high during of $1.41 per therm. Comparatively,
prices for January 2002 are $0.39 per therm. This drop represents
a 60 percent decrease in commodity prices.
For customers of Pacific
Gas and Electric Company, the average residential bill will be $48.38
for natural gas this January, compared to January 2001 when the
average bill rose to $121.92.
For the first time in many
months, prices are beginning to stabilize and are more reflective
of natural gas costs during the past five years. However, as the
winter heating season is underway, natural gas use increases. The
average residential customer uses 70 therms of natural gas per month
during the winter compared to less than 30 therms during the summer.
The following chart reflects
monthly costs for the past five years:
* Does not include transportation cost
which averages $0.36 cents per therm
Although natural gas prices
are beginning to stabilize, the California Public Utilities Commission's
imposed rate surcharge for electricity remains in effect; therefore,
Pacific Gas and Electric Company reminds its customers that there
are programs to help manage energy bills.
CARE (California Alternative
Rates for Energy) provides a 20 percent discount on both gas and
electricity for eligible customers. Medical baseline provides qualified
customers with a higher allocation of both electricity and natural
gas at the lowest rate. Qualified customers of CARE and medical
baseline are also exempt from the state's surcharge on electric
rates. Another program to help manage customers' bills is the balanced
payment program - monthly payments are divided over a 12-month period.
For more information on billing options call our toll free number
at 1-800-PGE-5000 or visit our website at www.pge.com.
Additionally, all residential
customers received a higher allocation of natural gas when winter
baseline took effect November 1, 2001. Climate zones, geographical
territories and historical consumption determine baseline usage.
While customers will receive
a higher gas allotment, conservation remains key. Tips for conserving
this winter include:
Setting thermostat at
68 degrees or cooler
(change filters, clean air ducts, check for leaks)
Installing water heater
blanket (unless heater is lined inside)
Call 1-800-PGE-5000: For
more information on billing options