California Gas Bills Giving Us the Chills!

Los Angeles, California isn’t commonly a winter wonderland surrounded by snow-capped mountains. All over the western coast of the United States, this has been an unusually cold winter. The cold doesn’t end when you close your front door. Looking at the power bill has been giving Californians the chills. Some assessments put the cost of natural gas in California at 5 to 6 times the national average. The power companies give lots of reasons. One is that California was caught short on natural gas, so the power companies are charging more (another way of saying that they are just ripping us off). The claim is that the prices are higher because people are using more heat. However, there are several accounts of gas bills increasing in houses that were empty, so increased usage clearly isn’t the only thing driving up the bills.

Another claim is that the prices increased because of a pipeline explosion in Arizona. The El Paso Line 2000 exploded in 2021, killing two people in their homes. Does a decrease in production in 2021 really affect 2023 prices this much, and at the perfect time when Californians need more energy than usual?

An infamous energy crisis occurred in 2000-2001 in California. Enron was an energy corporation that specialized in speculation and shady finances around energy products. Their sleazy brokers were calling power plants and telling them to shut down or reduce output so they could increase prices. This was the result of the deregulation of the industry, which created all sorts of ways to manipulate energy prices to make more money. Companies always try to maximize profits at the expense of their workers and customers. In this case, Enron made money by manipulating the energy products that people needed to keep the lights on. A captivating documentary was made about this called, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” — it’s a must-see. Today the scams of energy companies might not be as extreme, but they are still ripping us off just the same.

Pretending to address the complaints of angry voters paying outrageous energy bills, California’s Governor, Gavin Newsom, has opened an investigation. This is just a politician’s way to offer people a crumb and appear to respond while doing next to nothing. In addition, he is proudly touting that California’s “Cap and Trade” program gives Californians a “climate credit” that customers will see on their April electric and gas bills. The credit for the 2022 tax year will be about $90 to $120 in total for both gas and electric, which doesn’t even cover the amount of money energy companies have been gouging from California residents.

But also Cap and Trade is another scam designed to allow companies to continue to put profits first while appearing to be environmentally responsible. If one company keeps its emissions under the so-called “cap,” it can earn credits which it can then “trade” to another company to allow it to pollute over the “cap.” The companies wheel-and-deal and the pollution remains. And, of course, the companies have successfully lobbied the politicians to adjust the Cap and Trade rules in their favor.

Meanwhile, our energy bills continue to increase as companies keep jacking up the prices. And politicians like Newsom pretend to be doing us a favor, as they oversee this whole operation based on profiting from the destruction of the planet.