San Diego County Residents Continue to Float the Bill

SDG&E and its recent price hikes and fees are really digging deep into their customers’ pockets.


Joseph Salcido, Deputy Editor

It’s no secret that SDG&E has been a thorn in the side of San Diego County residents for some time now. People are getting impatient, seeing their bills increase as much as 200 percent. Reports have popped up all over the county of customers noting that they have not changed any habits and have even made an effort to reduce their energy use, but still see bills increasing. Tareq Asfour, a La Mesa resident, was recently interviewed by ABC 10 News San Diego about his recent SDG&E bill, which went from $75 to $350.

“I looked at it, and I was totally shocked. I said, ‘This is not possible,'” he stated.

When I heard about this situation hitting so close to home, I started to wonder how this might be affecting students at Grossmont; they are already trying to navigate college life in the middle of a pandemic. SDG&E has said it is aware of customers’ issues and has taken steps to alleviate the stress of residents’ bills. Sr. Vice President of Customer Services and External Affairs Scott Rider said in an interview with CBS 8’s Shannon Handy:

“We’ve got lots of programs for our customers. Number one, there’s about a third of SDG&E residential customers that today get a 35% discount if their income qualifies. We also, in working with the state, secured $62 million to help offset some debt from, you know, from the pandemic that our customers accumulated.”


Source: Plexels

SDG&E has stated the price increase is due to inflation and the price of natural gas going up 25% from January 2021. Customers are aware of the world’s economic situation and can understand the price increase of gas, but what cannot be explained is why they are paying more in fees and hidden charges than the actual gas itself. I had the opportunity to speak with Andres Reyes, a student at Grossmont. When asked if he’d like to share his thoughts on the situation, he said:

“I was literally gone and out of the house most of the month in January, and I’m usually never home anyway, so I never see that high of a bill at most it’s like 50 or 60 bucks, but this month’s bill jumped to 180 and I about died.”

If SDG&E is confident that the price increase is related to inflation, how are so many reports coming out across the county from situations just like this? Customers are barely home and still finding more expensive bills. The charges stem from multiple avenues listed on the company’s website, including electricity generation charges, transmission, distribution, nuclear decommissioning, competition transition charges, local generations charges, reliability services, and total rate adjustment components. When seeing this long list of charges, you wonder why these are all forced onto the customer for a company that made nearly $9 billion in profit last year, and a CEO who is making over $23 million a year.

Most people are unaware of how much SDG&E and its leaders are making. This past month, I spoke with Joseph Arriaga, a nursing student at Grossmont, about SDG&E’s profit. He said,

“It’s honestly disgusting to think that a company as big as SDG&E, and how much money they’re making, would think customers are going to fall for this bald-faced lie when plenty of people in other parts of the country are not even seeing bills this high.”

Source: Pexels

It’s safe to say that residents are fed up and have had to make major financial decisions to keep the heat on or use the gas for cooking. The worst part of this whole ordeal is if customers were to reduce their electricity and gas usage drastically, it would not even make a dent due to the fees. The rate for electricity also increased in January from around 32 cents per kilowatt-hour to 34.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. SDG&E says those increases are used to pay for upgrades to make its system more reliable and safer.

I thought it would be interesting to see how students felt about fronting the bill for SDG&E’s upgrades and had the opportunity to hear from Eddie Dempsey, who is currently studying business at Grossmont.

“Not surprised to hear SDG&E is once again screwing over its customers, but these days it seems like all these rich corporations are making their customers float the bill for their expansion and then asking us to thank them for it.”

In the meantime, its customers will have to continue to suffer under these conditions and keep floating the bill for SDG&E.