With statistics compiled for the first two full months of the year, more than half of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. natural gas utility residential and small business customers have dropped their monthly use cumulatively more than 10% in January and February. Customers who maintain usage at least 10% below their cumulative use for the same three months last year will earn a 20% rebate on their gas bills for those three months.

Two months into the program that the utility re-established in the face of the high wholesale natural gas prices going into this winter heating season, 53% of the PG&E utility’s eligible residential and small business customers have reduced their usage more than 10% cumulatively, the utility announced last Friday. More recent February usage reductions were not as substantial as in January due to a cold snap experienced the last half of the month, PG&E said.

The average residential customer reducing usage by just 10% during the program will receive a rebate of about $50 — plus they will have saved about $30 because of the reduced gas usage — for an overall savings of $80, PG&E’s utility said. “Most residential customers actually will save more on their bill because they are reducing more than the 10% minimum required,” the utility said.

“As of the end of February, eligible customers reduced natural gas usage an average of nearly 23%. However, this is a significant decrease over January when the reduction was at nearly 33%. The drop in conservation is largely attributed to the cold snap that blanketed northern and central California during the last half of February.”

The utility said that despite some continuing cold weather with snow at lower elevations where it rarely appears, customers are continuing to be “vigilant” in their gas conservation efforts. The program is for the three winter heating months through the end of March.

The “10/20 Winter Gas Savings Program” had 61.1% of PG&E’s eligible gas customers in January meeting the program requirements, and 53.3% last month.

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