'Shockingly High' Winter Natural Gas Prices Hit California — as Planned

J. Scott Applewhite

While natural gas prices are in “free fall” on the national market, California’s prices to customers are doubling and in some cases tripling to “shockingly high” levels at a time when people on the West Coast, Messed Coast™ use energy the most. Freezing out Californians in winter is part of the state’s energy plan. It is rationing by another name. Try to look surprised.


California’s biggest energy companies, among them SoCalGas, announced Friday that, due to a spike in prices, “January bills are likely to be shockingly high. … While we don’t set these prices (they’re set by regional and national markets), nor does SoCalGas actually profit from rising prices, we want our customers to know that we understand that this may be a shock and a hardship for some” [emphasis added].

San Diego Gas and Electric made a similar pitch.

To soothe the already inflation- and energy-sopped working stiffs, SoCalGas also sent out a press release touting how it was tripling its contribution to a fund to help Californians pay their gas bills.

Left unsaid is that these high prices are part of the usual global warming, windmills, rainbows, save the earth, kill the people cabal into which energy companies have been willingly conscripted.

Energy policy is an arcane and difficult area of expertise and I don’t pretend to understand it all, but I do know politics and the distortions imposed on markets by political regulators hell-bent on selling the idea of peak oil and anti-fracking to curry favor with multi-billion dollar environmental donors. Ask Joe Manchin. He can tell you all about that. That is what we’re seeing here.


On day one of his presidency, Joe Biden revoked drilling permits, ended pipeline programs, and signaled his intention to end fossil fuel use. Prices necessarily began to skyrocket. Biden has built on his vows since then, announcing electric car requirements and hastening spikes in energy costs by his brinksmanship with Russia. Everything Biden has done to traditional energy has proven over and over how right President Trump was about getting America to energy independence.

Nevertheless, this hard left turn to “green energy” is the wish fulfillment of presidential candidate Barack Obama, who in 2007 candidly confessed that under his climate scheme energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket.” See his interview below.

Obama spoke before a friendly editorial board at the San Francisco Chronicle when he uttered these words. Listening intently and taking notes was an eager-to-please vassal named Gavin Newsom. As San Francisco mayor, Newsom obligated his city to follow the Kyoto enviro-protocols, which preceded the Paris Climate Accords and all the other WEF and UN energy/feel-good fads of the day. Newsom has brought Tom Steyer’s fondest wishes to bear as California’s governor.


Those fads have been picked up by most major California blue city mayors, adding more and more layers of regulation and costs to customers’ energy prices. These moves meet the approval of white, elite, Leftist Manhattan Beach swells but don’t help the HVAC repair guy who lives in Norco. Here’s a government-ordered welfare program to help you pay your regulated and inflation-induced outsized energy prices. Feel better?

KUSI TV notes that San Diego’s woke mayor Todd Gloria claimed his 2021 agreement with SDG&E would be “a better deal for the city and for ratepayers,” so he locked it in, resulting in the nation’s eighth-largest city paying the highest electricity rates in the country.

Natural gas is not just used for heating and cooking, it’s also used to generate 40% of the country’s electricity. A typical SDG&E residential customer who receives both electric delivery and electric generation as a bundled service from SDG&E may see their average monthly electric bill increase by around $25 from $160 to $185 starting this month, according to the utility.

The California utilities say that costs of natural gas have gone up dramatically over the past few weeks and that the “shocking” price increases are a passthrough and not a profit center.

That story contrasts with the Wall Street Journal’s story of current and future natural gas prices.


Futures for February delivery have fallen more than 8% to start 2023, to around $4 per million British thermal unit. That’s about where prices were a year ago, when temperatures were also unusually warm and before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine jolted energy markets.

Gas for delivery in February, often the most expensive time of year to buy the heating and power-generation fuel, has crashed more than 50% since August, when low inventories caused concerns about getting through winter with enough.

People have noticed the diverging storylines between California utilities and the rest of the country and the world.

While the February futures prices, “often the most expensive time of year to buy the heating and power-generation fuel, have crashed more than 50% since August when low inventories caused concerns about getting through winter with enough,” the Wall Street Journal noted, “Analysts say prices could fall further—a bad omen for energy stocks but good news for U.S. households that have been pinched by high fuel prices.”

Except in California. Maybe it’s all about that “regional gas market,” which is under the care of Newsom’s state government.

But you don’t have to look too far to recall that in 2019 Newsom’s administration “appointed agency officials, under pressure from radical environmental organizations and lobbyists, decided to ignore the energy-producing natural resources, and instead move to an all-electric grid, and the only approved ‘renewable energy:’ solar and wind energy, or ’boutique fuels,'” according to the California Globe.


In other words, Newsom stuck it to the oil and gas companies in favor of windmills and solar panels.

The news site notes what we all know: “California is rich in natural resources which once powered the state: natural gas deposits in the Monterey Shale formation; geothermal energy, abundant rivers and waterways such as the San Joaquin River Delta and hydroelectric dams; the Pacific coastline; 85 million acres of wildlands with 17 million of those used as commercial timberland; mines and mineral resources, vast farming and agricultural lands, and hunting and fishing,” but which has lain the livelihoods of Californians on the sepulcher of radical environmentalism where intentions are the only measure of success.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) recently said that the Democrats’ inverted energy priorities remind him of his old Beagle, Roger.

And Roger was a rascal. About every two weeks he’d run off but he’d always come back. But about half the time he’d come back dragging road kill that he would hide under my back porch. President Biden’s energy policy looks like something Roger used to keep under my back porch.


Now all of California’s energy productivity is beginning to smell like something Roger left under the porch.

Here’s the guy who helped put it there:


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