By Lemor Abrams

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Angeline Rothwell makes sure to only run the heater for a few hours a night to break the chill, and avoid burning her bottom line.

But in the last three months, her bill has left her with sticker shock.

It jumped from $20 to $90 a month for the first time in the 12 years she’s lived here in Folsom, a 350% increase.

“I’m scared you know; one of these days I’m coming home they cut [me] off ’cause I didn’t pay yet,” she said.

Mindy Spatt of the utility watchdog group TURN says advocates are hearing from more and more Sacramento area users with skyrocketing bills and colder weather isn’t the only culprit.

“You’ve got the storm of higher rates, winter baseline in effect, and colder weather,” Spatt said.

Temperatures in Sacramento for the month of December were slightly cooler than they were in 2015, off by about a degree on average.

PG&E tells CBS13, rates went up last summer an average of $7 dollars per month, but that’s not enough to triple someone’s bill. A spokesman sent us a statement, reading in part:

“While average residential customers’ bills are still well below the national average, we want our customers to know that we are here to help them make smart energy choices and manage their costs.”

“PG&E apparently isn’t doing enough to help customers this winter,” said Spatt.

PG&E says it can perform energy audits of any user’s home to trace the source of their high bills.

Spatt encourages concerned consumers to call a utility advocate at the Utility Reform Network for help analyzing their bills…comparing overall usage from year to year.

Angeline says she’ll just suck up this bill, and maybe turn off the heater altogether…to see if that makes a difference.

Comments (10)
  1. Robin Mayer says:

    My bill for Nov was $46.00 and my bill for Dec was $170.00! unbelievable! Something crooked is going on!

  2. Larry Calfee says:

    Our PGE bill for Dec was $314.76 (Gas and Electric). This was our highest yet. After your news report, I checked and found that there has been a steady increase in the cost of energy along with a change in the Tier level definitions. In 2014 our Dec rates were T1 0.152/KWH T2 0.176 / KWH T3 .264/KWH and T4 .324KWH. In Aug 2016 the definition of the Tier 2 and above changed. By Dec 2016 the tier rates were T1 .183/KWH T2 .242/KWH and T3 .403/KWH. Why have the rates been allowed by the PUC to increase so much? Are there so many people now creating their own power through solar panels that PGE has raised it rates on the rest of us to make up the difference?

    Larry Calfee
    Vacaville, CA

  3. Bodie Benton says:

    Contact PG&E and have them do an analysis of your historical data. You can sign up with PG&E to retrieve this data online. You have to consider that PG&E has two rate periods – Winter and Summer. In the end you will find you are using much more gas to heat your home and that is due to the cooler weather we are having. I used 7 therms more in January 2017 than I did in January 2016 and there was no significant increase in the rates that would support the all of these claims. No, I do not work for PG&E but I do watch my usage monthly.

  4. Check the thermostat. Your roommate or a child home from college, may have “adjusted” the thermostat. Especially in school, students don’t have a utility bill to pay in the dorms, so they will turn it up high and leave it there. There’s no incentive to save, if they’re not the ones paying the bill.

    Lock down the stat at a lower temperature like 65 (70+ is way too warm). It’s winter, put on a sweater and deal with it. I still see plenty of crazy guys who insist on wearing shorts in the winter.

  5. Dave Fear says:

    Just got solar so I could finally use the electricity to run my A/C over the summer without paying a fortune to then find out the cost of gas has gone way up. Awesome. I wish we had any other option than PG&E. My gas bill went from about $30/month in Summer and Fall to $250 the last two months….

  6. Nona Mord says:

    Our PG&E bill for Nov. 2016 was $107.37, Dec. 2016 went up to $273.14, Jan. 2017 was a hopping $521.79. How does a bill go up $413.00 in a two month period? I called PG&E yesterday was on the phone for 1 hour 5 minutes talking to someone. We have one light on at night & one TV with the heater set on 64 degrees. How does this equate to $521.79 a month. Two people living in the house! Something is really wrong. PG&E needs to be investigated.

  7. Su Fisher says:

    My bill tripled as well. PG&E’s response when I called was “Turn it off” Wow!

  8. PG&E has to pay for their San Bruno mess somehow, what better way than triple everyone’s bill? Totally ridiculous! I hope they get called out for this mess. Their explanation does NOT explain why my bill tripled. On average this winter was about 1 degree colder, and prices rose about 1%… still the math doesn’t add up.

  9. Typical. The rates skyrocket and PG&E offers to come out and do an audit to trace the source of their high bills. The missing piece of the puzzle here is the massive increase, as if suddenly the homeowner has changed the way they’ve been living in the house for years. Blame it on the homeowner, like always.

  10. Evelyn Wright, No amount of explaining how to control utilities,etc. etc can justify going up from one month $139.00 to $679.00.