California regulators announced an $8 million fine Tuesday against Southern California Gas Co., citing billing irregularities over a three-year period, and said thousands of customers will receive $100 credits on their bills as a result.
According to the California Public Utilities Commission, the fine is the result of an investigation into hundreds of billing-related complaints.
The investigation found that the utility failed to issue more than 13 million bills to customers between 2014-16 and extended billing periods for 140,000 customers in November and December 2015, resulting in higher bills, according to the commission. The company also failed to issue timely bills to about 47,000 customers in the winter of 2015-16 "because of delays in its bill-validation process," according to the CPUC.
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Of the roughly $8 million fine, $4.7 million will fund one-time $100 bill credits for the 47,000 customers affected by the delayed bills in 2015-16, regulators said.
SoCalGas issued a statement saying it is reviewing the CPUC's ruling and deciding whether to file an appeal.
"The completion of our advanced meter project has all but eliminated estimated bills," according to SoCalGas.
In addition, SoCalGas customers now have access to real-time data about their natural gas use and bills.
"We maintain that our billing practices during the period in question were consistent with our CPUC approved tariffs," according to the company.