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O.C. BUSINESS PLUS | ORANGE COUNTY BRIEFLY

Higher Natural Gas Bills Predicted for South County

October 20, 2000

San Diego Gas & Electric, which provides natural gas and power to much of south Orange County, said Thursday that its average monthly natural gas bill this winter will likely go up $17 for the typical residential customer.

The utility said in a press release that a sharp rise in natural gas costs nationwide is prompting the increase. Typical bills are likely to jump to $56 a month from $39, it said.

The predicted hikes come after a summer of soaring electric rates for SDG&E customers in particular.

The utility said it is buying advertisements and air time and sending direct mail to inform customers about the higher bills, explain the reasons for the increase and outline their options.

The company said in its release that it is "very concerned" that its customers, hit with high electricity prices in the summer, are going to face high heating costs in the winter.

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