Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Californians Earn Energy Credits For Fighting Climate Change

Climate

California residents and small businesses will save on their April electricity bills thanks to the state’s comprehensive strategy to combat climate change under its groundbreaking Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). Since its 2006 passage, AB 32 has reduced carbon pollution and the public health impacts of burning fossil fuels while solidifying California’s place as a global leader in clean energy.

For millions of Californians, it’s now about to also (literally) pay them dividends.

Beginning April 1, the California Climate Credit will be distributed to residential and small business customers of California’s investor-owned utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, which collectively serve more than two-thirds of the state’s electricity demand.

Every household within each utility’s service territory receives the same credit to ensure that those who use less electricity are not penalized.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

For residential customers, the credits will appear on utility bills in April and October. The amount of the credit varies by utility, this year ranging from about $30 to $40 for households. Eligible small businesses, including schools and hospitals, will receive the credit monthly.

Polluter pays, customers gain

These utility bill savings are a result of a key component of California’s plan to achieve AB 32’s goal of reducing carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020—the cap-and-trade program—which requires the state’s largest emitters to acquire a shrinking pool of permits (known as allowances) for every ton of pollution they emit. This puts a price on carbon to help level the playing field for carbon-free energy sources for electricity generation, such as renewables like wind and solar, and also energy efficiency programs to reduce the need for new power plants and encourage customers to use less. It also puts a hard limit on pollution to ensure California achieves AB 32’s emissions reduction target.

The California Air Resources Board sells pollution allowances at quarterly auctions. The six auctions to date have raised just under $1.7 billion—with roughly 40 percent ($663 million) earmarked for clean energy investments to further the goals of AB 32, and the balance distributed to utility customers via the Climate Credit and other programs (publicly-owned utilities must use the value of pollution allowances allocated to them exclusively for the benefit of their customers, but are outside the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission and are not required to issue Climate Credits on monthly bills).

Why households get the same amount

While the credits vary by utility, every household within each utility’s service territory receives the same amount. This ensures customers using use less electricity are not penalized by receiving a smaller credit, which would otherwise blunt incentives for efficiency and conservation. This is particularly important to protect low-income households—who, by necessity, spend more of their income on basic needs like energy and tend to conserve more than wealthier households.

Making the credit do more

Customers who invest their savings from the Climate Credit in a low-cost energy efficiency option—such as a programmable thermostat or an advanced power strip—can cut their electric bills even more while supporting California’s efforts to transition to clean energy. Replacing just one incandescent light bulb with a new LED, for example, can save more than $50 over the life of the bulb—more than doubling the value of the credit. A handy list of other great options to help customers get the most of the credit is available on EnergyUpgradeCA.org. The site also has factsheets, FAQs, and opportunities to get engaged and help spread the word about the credit.

Graphic credit: Energy Upgrade California

The way forward

As the urgency in addressing climate change continues to mount, the Climate Credit offers yet another reminder that transitioning off of a carbon-based energy diet need not come at the expense of businesses' and households' bottom lines. Under AB 32, California has put a price on carbon to boost clean energy and promote energy efficiency, and is distributing the bulk of the proceeds directly to utility customers.

For the states and countries around the world watching California to show the way forward on climate, I'd say sounds like a pretty good approach.

This post originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog.

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

How Energy Policies Dramatically Cut Carbon Pollution State by State

——–

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A man pushes his mother in a wheelchair down Ocean Drive in South Beach, Miami on May 19, 2020, amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.

Read More Show Less
To better understand how people influence the overall health of dolphins, Oklahoma State University's Unmanned Systems Research Institute is developing a drone to collect samples from the spray that comes from their blowholes. Ken Y. / CC by 2.0

By Jason Bruck

Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.

Read More Show Less

Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus

On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.

Read More Show Less
Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks. jacqueline / CC by 2.0

By Kelli McGrane

Oat milk is popping up at coffee shops and grocery stores alike, quickly becoming one of the trendiest plant-based milks.

Read More Show Less

"Emissions from pyrotechnic displays are composed of numerous organic compounds as well as metals," a new study reports. Nodar Chernishev / EyeEm / Getty Images

Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.

Read More Show Less
Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons. Curtis Palmer / CC by 2.0

By Ashutosh Pandey

Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A women walks with COVID-19 care kits distributed by Boston's Office of Neighborhood Services in Boston, Massachusetts on May 28, 2020. The pandemic has led to a rise in single-use plastic items, but reusable bags and cloth masks can be two ways to reduce waste. JOSEPH PREZIOSO / AFP via Getty Images

This month is Plastic Free July, the 31 days every year when millions of people pledge to give up single-use plastics.

Read More Show Less