Long Beach City Council Approves Development of a Natural Gas Price-Spike Relief Program for City Residential Gas Customers in Need
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Long Beach, CA – During a special meeting called by Mayor Rex Richardson on Feb. 1, 2023, the Long Beach City Council approved with a nine to zero vote authorization for the City Manager to work with the Long Beach Utilities Department to promptly implement a Natural Gas Price-Spike Relief Program for those residential gas customers most in need of payment assistance. This action comes after the steep increase in wholesale natural gas prices experienced throughout California, including in Long Beach, over the last few months and resulting in unaffordable bills for many customers.

"The drastic increase in natural gas prices we are experiencing has resulted in unaffordable natural gas bills for many working families and households in Long Beach," said Mayor Rex Richardson. "This assistance program will provide much needed relief for residents struggling with the high costs. I thank the City Council for their support in this critical relief program."

The "Cost of Gas" more than quadrupled in January 2023 compared with January 2022. The price of wholesale natural gas increased by 84 percent from November to December 2022 and, in January 2023, climbed an additional 168 percent from the December cost. This price spike has led to dramatic and burdensome increases in monthly gas bills for all California residents, including in Long Beach.

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The City's General Fund revenue receives the revenue from a 5 percent utility users tax (UUT) on natural gas, a tax that is applied monthly to every customer's total gas bill amount. Therefore, as gas bills increase to customers, so does the General Fund revenue. After evaluating the winter price spikes, City staff projects roughly an additional $1.5 million in UUT revenue this winter to the General Fund. The Natural Gas Price-Spike Relief Program will redirect the additional revenue to Long Beach Utility residential customers most in need.

Staff from the Long Beach Utilities Department will develop the program with an equity lens, so as to best reach those truly most in need, and, with the resources available, help as many people as possible. The program will focus on providing financial relief to Long Beach residential customers, particularly those who are low income, disabled, and seniors on fixed income.

In the coming week, Long Beach Utilities will develop a program framework and bring it to the Board of Utilities Commissioners for final approval.

Program funds are set to become available to residents by mid-February.

More information about the Natural Gas Price-Spike Relief Program will be shared in the coming days.

Filed Under: Government, City

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