SAN DIEGO — San Diego Gas & Electric announced Thursday that residential customers will receive credits on their upcoming bills due to a state program aimed at combating climate change.
The utility said customers will get up to $171.40 in bill credits in the coming months due to the California Climate Credit program, which distributes gas and electric credits twice per year.
This year, natural gas customers will see their April bills reduced by $43.06, more than double last year's credit.
In August and September, electricity bills will be offset by $128.34 across both months, almost double last year's amount.
The timing of the electric Climate Credits are tied to bills received during the typically hottest months in the year when energy use tends to be higher due to air conditioning usage.
"It's not SDG&E out of the goodness of their heart who decided they are going to give customers credit, these are credits because customers pay higher consumer prices for other products," said Mark Toney, Executive Director for The Utility Reform Network (TURN).
Toney says those prices are passed on to consumers from companies who have to buy climate credits from the California Public Utilities commission because they emit greenhouse gases and carbon emissions such as power plants, dry cleaners, cement mixers.
The program, administered by the California Public Utilities Commission, requires industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy carbon pollution permits. Credits on customers' bills represent the customers' share of the payments from the state's program.
"The things we buy have higher costs because they paid for the climate credits the idea is that the credits made on our bills are supposed to offset those higher costs," said Toney.
It's called the California Climate Credit, which is administered by the California Public Utilities Commission not SDG&E..
Customers have been receiving these gas and electric discounts on their spring and fall bills since 2014. The credits ranging from $18 to $30 but come April it will more than double to a $43.06 credit and in august and September SDG&E customers will receive a $64.17 discount.
Attorney Maria Severson who has spent years representing SDG&E customers says more needs to be done to reduce utility bills.
"This is kind of like a party favor at a really bad party what we really need to do is decrease rates overall every single month," said Severson.
Consumer advocate say the increased credit has nothing to do with customer complaints over higher SDG&E bills but welcomes the relief.
"A happy coincidence that the carbon credits were sold for more there was more revenue last year to generate these credits," said Toney.
No action is required on the part of SDG&E customers to receive the credit, according to the utility. All ratepayers will receive the same credit. TURN says this fought this to make a bigger impact on those who have lower bills and conserve.
According to the Public Utilities Commission, the California Climate Credit is part of California’s efforts to fight climate change.
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