California Climate Credit Lowers PG&E Bills Amid COVID-19 Financial Woes


PG&E employees work to replace a nearly 100-year-old utility pole in Berkeley last year. - ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS
  • Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • PG&E employees work to replace a nearly 100-year-old utility pole in Berkeley last year.

If you’re seeing a lower charge on your PG&E utility bill, it’s because of the California Climate Credit, part of California’s efforts to fight climate change.

Twice a year, the credit is applied to utility companies that are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) Co. customers usually receive their credits in April and October. April’s credit was applied to PG&E customers' accounts as planned this month and October’s credit will be split in half and applied to May and June bills for PG&E customers, and no credit will be applied in October.  

According to CPUC representative Terrie Prosper, commissioners approved a proposal on April 16 to “accelerate the distribution of the California Climate Credit for PG&E” in response to increasing at-home energy usage due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 stay-at-home order.

Each utility company that’s regulated by the CPUC receives the California Climate Credit. As of now, any electricity customers with PG&E, SCE, San Diego Gas and Electric, Pacific Power (PacifiCorp), Liberty Utilities (CalPeco Electric) and all community choice aggregators receive the climate credit.

The CPUC requires power plants, natural gas providers and other large industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy carbon pollution permits from auctions managed by the Air Resources Board. The bill credit is a portion of the shares customers pay.

PG&E is modifying its billing and services for customers who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The utility company is offering flexible payment plans, suspending service disconnections for non-payment for all residential and small business customers, waiving deposit requirements and suspending Medical Baseline removals.

PG&E is also offering financial assistance to customers through the California Alternate Rates for Energy Program (CARE), which saves qualified households 20 percent or more a month on their energy bill, the Family Electric Rate Assistance Program (FERA), which saves income-qualified households with three or more people for a monthly discount on their electric bill, and financial assistance through the Relief for Energy Assistance through Community Help (REACH) which provides income-qualified customers with financial assistance. Those affected by COVID-19 will be able to qualify for $100 toward their energy bill through May 4. 

PG&E is also giving tips on ways to reduce energy and gas usage on its website here. To read more about the California Climate Credit click here.  

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