The California Public Utilities Commission voted on Thursday, Feb. 2 to accelerate the timeframe in which residential energy customers will receive a Climate Credit on their bills in order to provide much needed support to customers experiencing unusually high natural gas bills this winter.
Acting on an emergency motion of its Public Advocates Office filed on Jan. 11, the CPUC ordered utilities to provide the Climate Credit to residential customers as soon as possible, rather than waiting until the scheduled month of April. The combined Climate Credit of roughly $90 to $120 will automatically show up as soon as possible on the bills on Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Gas Company. Customers of Bear Valley, Liberty, PacifiCorp, and Southwest Gas will also receive an accelerated credit.
For specific amounts, please see www.cpuc.ca.gov/climatecredit.
Rising natural gas prices, which are passed through at cost directly to utility customers, are resulting in higher energy bills statewide this winter. While the CPUC does not regulate gas prices or gas producers, given the impact of these high prices on ratepayers, the CPUC acted quickly to accelerate the Climate Credit.
“December saw one of the highest natural gas price spikes in recent memory. This price volatility is another excellent reminder of the urgent need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels in our homes and energy system,” said Commissioner Darcie L. Houck who is assigned to the proceeding. “I am proud of the many staff who worked extra hours to quickly approve nearly $1.3 billion in customer bill relief. We expect the utilities to process this relief as expeditiously as possible.”
“Natural gas prices throughout the West have risen to alarming levels this winter. Advancing the California Climate Credit will provide immediate relief to California families struggling to pay their bills while we examine this critical issue and explore longer-term solutions to volatile natural gas prices,” said CPUC President Alice Reynolds.
The CPUC will hold an En Banc on Feb. 7, 2023, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. to bring together market experts to highlight publicly the status of natural gas and electric prices, examining all the possible drivers behind the natural gas price spikes and exploring potential actions that can be taken. More information is available at www.cpuc.ca.gov/events-and-meetings/en-banc-2023-02-07.
“High natural gas prices are driving up bills for customers. It is important and urgent that the CPUC has taken this action to reduce customers’ bills – especially low-income customers,” said Commissioner Genevieve Shiroma.
“I’m glad we were able to move up this relief from high fossil fuel prices, which comes from the State’s program to fight climate change and reduce global warming emissions. Moving forward, Californians need access to improvements and technology that will help them get the same benefits while using less energy,” said Commissioner John Reynolds.
“Disbursing the Climate Credit as soon as practicable is an important immediate action the utilities can take to help customers suffering from unexpectedly high natural gas bills. We will soon be taking a close look to assess any additional steps we might take, but I am glad we can take this concrete action right now,” said Commissioner Karen Douglas.
Every spring and fall, millions of Californians receive credits on their electric and natural gas bills identified as the California Climate Credit. The California Climate Credit comes from a state program that requires power plants and other large industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy carbon pollution permits from auctions managed by the California Air Resources Board. The credit on the electricity bills of consumers represents the consumer’s share of the payments from the State’s program.
Customers do not need to do anything to get the credit. Households typically receive the Climate Credit on their October or November and April or May bills each year, regardless of energy consumption or bill amount.
The Climate Credit is one of many beneficial programs developed as a result of landmark legislation called the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (Assembly Bill 32), which puts California at the forefront of efforts to battle climate change by requiring that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020.
The proposal voted on is available at docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PublishedDocs/Published/G000/M501/K846/501846164.PDF.
Documents related to the proceeding are available at apps.cpuc.ca.gov/p/R1103012.
The CPUC regulates services and utilities, protects consumers, safeguards the environment, and assures Californians’ access to safe and reliable utility infrastructure and services. For more information on the CPUC, please visit www.cpuc.ca.gov.
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I don’t understand where the huge increase in cost of natural gas to our home comes from. I understand that USA has an almost limitless amount of natural gas. I have lived in this house for 22 years and am retired/on fixed income. I do not waste resources and yet my gas bill was $576.00. How is this possible? I keep up with the news and have not heard a reasonable excuse except as stated in your write-up that we need to steer away from fossil fules.