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Here’s what Southwest Gas and its customers say about rising bills

Updated February 16, 2024 - 7:43 pm

Winter gas bills are more than 50 percent higher this year compared with last year, causing concern among Las Vegas residents.

Holly Harris said the Southwest Gas bill for her Centennial Hills area home for January was $344, up nearly 300 percent from her December bill of $91.

The large jump left Harris, a retiree, worried about how she would make ends meet, as her only income is a Social Security check.

“When 25 percent of your Social Security check is just going to Southwest Gas, that has a huge impact because you still have NV Energy, water bills, garbage pickup, food, basics,” Harris said.

Summerlin resident Kaye Bence told the Las Vegas Review-Journal her January bill came in at $291, up from $87 in December.

“Outrageous, and I’ll say it, criminal,” Bence said in an email.

Southwest Gas said customer bills are up because the cost to buy natural gas increased by over 75 percent in the past two years. Prices are also higher because of increased demand last winter and global events, including the Russia-Ukraine war, the utility said.

Southwest Gas said the average January gas bill for a Southern Nevada resident was $205, a 50 percent increase over last January’s average of $136.

Fuel cost rates are adjusted every three months and determined by the average price of natural gas over a 12-month period, according to the utility. If there is a spike in the price for even a brief period, that increase can impact customers’ bills for months afterward.

“This means that it takes time to pay off the balances of these purchased gas costs, so even though the cost of gas has gone down recently, the amount currently reflected in bills still reflects the higher prices from the past,” Southwest Gas spokesperson Amy Washburn said in an email.

Southwest Gas also estimated that 70 percent of winter monthly gas bills in Southern Nevada are going towards fuel costs, Chris Brown, the utility’s director of regulation, said during a January meeting of the Nevada Legislature’s Joint Interim Standing Committee on Growth and Infrastructure. Brown also noted that Southwest Gas doesn’t get a profit from its fuel cost rates.

2024 outlook

Washburn said the price of natural gas should decrease throughout 2024, and the utility could drop fuel cost rates later in the year.

Despite this, Southwest Gas is seeking to raise its non-fuel rates by 6.6 percent in Southern Nevada. It has said it will spend the new revenue on long-term investments and addressing growth demands caused by more people moving to Nevada. That request is still being considered by the Public Utilities Commission, but the utility hopes to have the new rates approved by April.

Those who have concerns about their bills or need payment help can call Southwest Gas or visit swgas.com/nvassist.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on X.

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