Gas meter rules, penalties, new regulations coming for California consumers
Gas meters are set to come under the regulatory microscope in California after new rules were approved in January that will impose hefty fines on consumers who exceed the allowable limit.
The changes come as California is experiencing its largest-ever drought and its first-ever statewide gas price spike.
The rules are expected to result in about $1.4 billion in fines for the average consumer, the California Department of Finance said in a news release Tuesday.
Consumers who exceed their allowable limits can pay the full price, plus a $200 fine, the state’s Finance Department said.
The state has also approved $500 fines for violators who exceed 10 percent of the statewide average price, up to $2,500.
The new rules also increase the amount of time an individual can stay in the cap, from 60 days to 90 days, while also increasing the number of days that individuals can exceed the limit and charge a fee.
The changes to the gas meter rules were first reported by the Los Angeles Times, but were not immediately available for comment from the California Gas & Electric Authority.
The new rules apply to new meters installed on Feb. 7.
The first-in-the-nation regulation applies to new gas meters installed after January 31, 2020.
The law, which went into effect in February, went into place despite a nationwide price spike, which was fueled by high demand for natural gas in the US.
“The changes make California the first state to take action to prevent the abuse of consumers’ gas meter allowances,” the state said in the news release.
“California is taking steps to protect the integrity of the price system, which is important to consumers and our economy.”
California is currently battling a nationwide gas price increase fueled by the rise in the cost of natural gas.
The average price of a gallon of regular gas in California jumped nearly 30 cents to $3.09 per gallon in February from a year ago, according to GasBuddy.com.
That jump is largely due to an increase in prices for oil and natural gas from shale gas production in North Dakota and Canada, which have been producing for years.
California’s statewide average price for natural Gas in February rose by more than 6 cents to a record $3,918.80 per gallon, according a report from GasBuddys.com, which analyzed the data.