SAN FRANCISCO, April 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) today announced that its Winter Gas Savings program paid out more than $43 million to nearly two million customers in February and March of this year as a reward for conserving natural gas. Bill credits paid to customers this year exceeded those paid in 2012 by almost $2 million. Customers who reduced their gas usage in December and January compared to the previous three winters (adjusted for weather) automatically received a credit of up to 20 percent on their gas bills for those months. Qualifying customers started seeing that credit on their gas bills in February. Over 1.9 million customers, or half of all who were eligible, earned bill credits by reducing their gas usage. About 60 percent of those who qualified received the maximum 20 percent bill credit. Through their efforts to reduce gas usage during December and January, customers saved more than 81 million therms of natural gas, or 18 percent relative to usage in previous winters. "Together with customers, we have saved a phenomenal amount of natural gas over the lifetime of PG&E's Winter Gas Savings program – more than 580 million therms," said Steve Malnight, PG&E's Vice President of Customer Energy Solutions. "PG&E customers took important steps to save gas and earn bill credits through the program, and that behavior will help them continue to save energy and money well into the future." In PG&E's service area, Calaveras, Kings and San Bernardino counties had the highest share of qualifying customers – 67 percent – receive the maximum credit of 20 percent. Qualifying customers in each of these counties managed to save around 20 percent relative to usage in previous winters. In Colusa County, where 64 percent of qualifying customers received the maximum credit, qualifying customers overall managed to conserve a remarkable 25 percent compared to previous winters, the highest savings rate in PG&E's service area. Customers were able to track their progress toward earning a bill credit online through PG&E's Facebook-enabled Winter Gas Savings Progress Tracker application. During the 2013 program, more than 100,000 customers used the Tracker application.