Your gas bill is rising with no end in sight. Choosing between heating your home and putting food on your table is a real concern for some in Richmond. Residents are currently struggling to repay $60 million in unpaid bills, and thousands of customers require special repayment plans to remain afloat. Richmond families cannot afford further inaction from the City Council and the Mayor.

Richmond Gas Works Is Driving Up Your Utility Bill

Richmond Gas Works relies on a failing business model, and it’s making your gas bill more expensive. Now that customers are embracing cheaper and cleaner options, gas is no longer a household staple and Richmond is forcing utility customers to pick up the tab. Richmond Gas Works’ operations are fueled by a growing pile of debt.

New debt is the only way to fund expansion of their business. When it’s unable to rely on more debt, Richmond Gas Works won’t be able to pay its bills just like a Ponzi scheme. Instead, it will turn to customers for a financial bail out.

Customers are forced to pay for each new hookup that Richmond Gas Works allows. The below interactive map shows each new hookup in the Richmond area since 1993.

Richmond Gas Works is unable to sustain itself without endless debt and significant price hikes every year. Over the last 27 years, Richmond Gas Works has been selling less gas to people than ever before. Instead of reconsidering whether people need the same level of gas service as in the past, they routinely raise prices. In March, 2023 this was mentioned as the reason why Richmond Gas Works raised your gas bill again.

Richmond Gas Works is still disregarding the financial struggle of existing customers. $111 million in new debt was issued in August 2023 in part to expand gas infrastructure out into Goochland County. It’s unlikely that customers will purchase enough gas to pay back this debt, so your rates will rise to make up the difference.

As Richmond Gas Works continues to waver under its several hundred million dollar debt burden, rates and customer frustration will continue to rise while Richmond risks entering a utility death spiral.

Leaky Pipes Are Costing Everyone Millions To Replace

Richmond is making customers pay to replace nearly 200 miles of leaky and dangerous gas pipes. This costs several hundred million dollars and does not improve harmful gas leaks. Since the money spent on new pipes doesn’t acquire new customers, everyone’s gas bill gets more expensive.

Gas utilities around the nation are required to replace leak prone pipes by the year 2032. These are pipes made of materials known to corrode easily or pipes which have already been in use for a long time. Replacing pipes is really expensive, especially in cities. In Philadelphia replacing gas pipes costs about $2.1 million per mile; in Maryland it costs between $2.2 and $2.6 million per mile, and in Washington, DC it costs about $20 million per mile of replaced gas pipe.

Richmond Gas Works isn’t being transparent about how much it’s spending on pipe replacement, but we do know that their current plan is unfairly raising gas bills for residents and small businesses.

Expensive pipe replacements won’t stop leaking pipes. A recent study estimates that modern plastic pipes leak nearly as much as the pipes we’re replacing. Likewise, Richmond’s West End suburbs are said to use the “latest, greatest technology” according to Richmond Gas Works’ leadership, but our mapping efforts identified hundreds of leaks in that area. The simple truth is that gas leaks—period.

We can avoid the gas utility cost crisis by gradually moving ourselves away from Richmond’s gas utility. Retiring instead of replacing pipes won’t force people to choose between heating their home and feeding their families.

Richmond Is Cutting Multi-Billion Dollar Organizations Unfair Deals

Your gas bill is more expensive than it should be because we’re unfairly overpaying for gas service. Data reported to the federal government by Richmond Gas Works shows they regularly sell gas at a loss to industrial customers. Since the year 1997, Richmond Gas Works has lost nearly $30 million to industrial customers, which residents and small businesses overcompensate for.

Sonoco and DuPont, both industrial customers per DPU documents, claimed a $1.1 billion profit and approved a $1 billion share buyback in 2021. Meanwhile, residents are struggling to repay $60 million in unpaid bills, and thousands of customers require repayment plans to remain afloat.