FOLSOM — As PG&E workers continued to repair distribution lines in East Folsom Tuesday, where they had discovered 62 gas leaks since last Thursday, a number of customers in the area received utility bills that far exceed their normal rates.
Many wondered whether the leaks and the higher bills were related.
As Sandra Rice filters through her old PG&E bill statements from the 20 years that she’s lived in her Fair Oaks home, she remains confounded as to why her current bill is so high — a little more than $340 for the month of January.
“Never that much, not even close…shock. Called my neighbors, they all said the same thing,” said Rice.
At least three of Rice’s neighbors who spoke to FOX40 off camera said their bills were significantly higher than normal.
One, like Rice, said it was the highest bill they’d ever gotten. Dozens more from Folsom, Orangevale and Citrus Heights took to social media, sounding off. Some saying their bill tripled in one month.
Others added they expected higher bills during the winter, but never this high. Many speculated that the 62 gas leaks, from ruptured distribution lines in East Folsom, might have affected customers’ meters, however, PG&E officials said that’s not the case.
“Our current rates were last adjusted in August and last changed January 1,” said Donald Cutler, PG&E spokesperson.
The utility raised its gas rates in August by 13 percent for the average residential customer and raised them again a half-percent on January 1, with a 1.4 percent hike on electric.
“Everybody seems to be noticing it though, everyone in the neighborhood,” said Rice.
Rice’s bill, though, was up about 35 percent from this time last year. She says PG&E’s numbers don’t add up. She says she isn’t using much more energy than she normally does.
“It would be very little, if more,” said Rice about her own energy use.
“Part of that is what we discussed, the previously approved rate changes. But as you know, it’s colder in the winter and more folks are using more energy,” said Cutler.
“I hope they will come up with the answer, what it is, so they can justify it or give us a credit. Whatever the issue is, it needs to be dealt with, and before the next bill,” said Rice.
As of about 3:30, PG&E had closed all but three of the 62 leaks they’d discovered in the East Folsom area.