Did you ever think that you could earn credit without having a credit card or even doing anything at all!? Well, it turns out you can with the climate credit! Now, you’re probably wondering “what exactly is climate credit and how do I get it?” The California Climate Program protects consumers from potential rate changes resulting from the Cap & Trade program.
But before I get to the good news, let’s rewind to what started it all:
California has been reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to help fight climate change. In 2006, the Global Warming Solutions Act, also known as Assembly Bill 32 (AB32), was approved by the California state legislature and signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger with hopes of decreasing California’s greenhouse emissions by 2020. Over the past few years, the Air Resource Board (ARB) has been planning and drafting laws and marketing mechanisms to achieve their 2020 greenhouse gas emissions cap. They intend to decrease emissions to 1990 levels and to maintain the 15% reduction from current GHG levels. In January 2012, the GHG rules and market mechanisms came into effect and are legally enforced.
With AB32, large industries such as refineries, industrial facilities, transportation fuels, and power plants are pressured to be more environmentally conscious about the amount of GHGs they emit into the atmosphere. Under AB32, these industries are limited by the Cap and Trade Program. The program caps how much carbon emissions industries release into the atmosphere, and each year this cap is lowered by 3% to ensure a reduction in climate change. As a result, these industries have to accommodate to these changes by decreasing their emissions, buying extra permits in auctions managed by the ARB, or trading with other industries. AB32 tag-teaming with the Cap and Trade Program provides a great incentive for industries to reduce emissions and move towards cleaner forms of energy (such as solar)!
So where do these so-called “climate credits” come into the picture? Well, money received from the purchase of emission permits ends up in two places: helping fight climate change and back to YOU, the consumer! The goal of the climate credits is to assist households and small businesses by fully or partially offseting electricity rate increases, while also giving them an opportunity to invest in sustainable energy options.
Unfortunately, in order to get these climate credits, you have to be eligible. Households and small businesses who are eligible are customers who receive electricity from an investor-owned utility company, electric service providers, or community choice aggregation providers. So if you get your electricity from PG&E, SDG&E, SCE, Pacific Power, Liberty Utilities, Marin Clean Energy, or Sonoma Clean Power, be sure to check your April electricity bill for your climate credit! The best part about these credits? They’re free! Who doesn’t like free things!?
Worried that your energy bills are too high to recieve climate credits? Well, have no fear, because credits are not affected by your bill or energy consumption! Although, California’s climate credits vary for each electricity provider and may fluctuate yearly, credit is distributed equally to each provider’s residential customers in April and October and every month for small businesses beginning April 2014.
Climate credits can be used to live in a more sustainable household. For example, you can use the credit to reduce energy bills by buying LED light bulbs or advanced power strips to save money! Less harm to the environment and more money in your pocket…what’s not to like? So when your April electric bill arrives, keep an eye out for those credits!
This post was written by our intern, Jeralyn Biscocho. She is currently a 4th year at the
University of California, Irvine majoring in Earth System Sciences and
minoring in Global Sustainability.
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