Given $75 and a choice, will Californians invest in energy-efficient appliances, light bulbs and other gadgets that address climate change?
California’s two top clean-air regulators said Monday that they hope it is a safe bet that millions of utility customers will put a twice-annual “climate credit” toward purchases that can further lower their utility bills.
California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey and California Air Resources Board Chairman Mary Nichols described the logic behind the state’s new “non-coercive” incentive toward shrinking the state’s carbon footprint, a day after releasing estimated bill impacts.
San Diego Gas Electric residential customers can expect to see a $36.24 reduction on their electric bill for April, and again in October, state officials announced Sunday. Customers of the state’s investor-owned utilities will receive about $750 million this year from the sale of pollution allowances on the state’s new cap-and-trade market for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Peevey said the credit, along with utility-bill inserts on green gadgets, provide an easy answer to one of the critical questions about climate change: What can I do?
“We’re producing a means to answer that question,” Peevey said. “Here’s what you can do. … You can reduce energy use this way without having a detrimental effect on your lifestyle.”
Nichols highlighted a new report Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warning that the already noticeable harms of global warming could spiral out of control.
“I think Californians are increasingly aware of those facts, and are looking for a way to participate in finding a way to make change happen,” she said.
Officials addressed public questions about how the credit applies to residential customers who are billed indirectly through homeowner associations or a variety of multi-family housing arrangements. In those instances, Peevey said, the “master meter” customer would receive the credits and be responsible for distributing them to individual households.
California has rolled out the nation’s first economywide approach for controlling pollution by capping total greenhouse gas emissions and issuing pollution permits that can be bought or sold by companies to offset their actual pollution.
Revenue from the sale of those permits is being returned directly to customers for the first time this month.
When utilities buy electricity from power plants that emit greenhouse gases under the cap-and-trade system, the pollution costs ultimately will be reflected in higher electricity rates. The climate credit is intended to help offset those costs for households and some small businesses that have no choice but to buy power from those utilities.
Article source: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2014/apr/01/tp-utilities-hope-to-spur-investment-in-energy/