With the cost of goods and services increasing because of inflation, San Diegans are frustrated to also see higher SDG&E bills compared with previous months.
Kevin Kilpatrick has filed papers to sue SDG&E in small claims court for $10,000 for price gouging and mental distress. He said his SDG&E bills have risen 42% over the past year and 117% since 2017.
"I get very, very stressed out," Kilpatrick said. "I pretty much live on a fixed income."
SDG&E said that average gas rates have gone up 25% since January of last year and electricity has gone up almost 8% since last month. The utility said that, coupled with an extremely cold winter, there could be a lot of the reasons customers are seeing higher bills.
Kilpatrick said he has been living in the same condominium for the past nine years and hasn't changed any of his consumption habits. He's tracked his monthly bills for the past five years in a spreadsheet.
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"I get up in the morning and its 58 degrees in my condo, and I stand in front of the thermostat and debate with myself whether I can turn on the heat or not," Kilpatrick said. "If I touch my thermostat, SDG&E is going to pop me for another 35 or 40 bucks."
Kilpatrick said he knows he probably won't win in small claims court, but he doesn't know what else to do.
"I have both gas and electric — mostly, I guess, I use electric — but I need the gas to heat up the water when I take a shower, although I’ve been taking military showers lately, which means I turn off the water when I’m soaping or shampooing," Kilpatrick said.
A representative for SDG&E said that prices are higher energy because of increased costs for buying natural gas in the wholesale market and that the utility has also spent a lot of money on programs like a $3 billion wildlife mitigation effort.