California Climate Credit

Twice a year, millions of California residents receive a credit on their utility bill identified as the “California Climate Credit."  The California Climate Credit is part of California's efforts to fight climate change.  This credit is from a state program that requires power plants and other large industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy carbon pollution permits.  The credit represents residential utility ratepayers' share of the payments from the State's program.  The credit program was created by the CPUC, which also oversees the program's implementation.

Currently, all residential and eligible small business electricity customers of PGE&E, SDG&E, SCE Pacific Power and Liberty Utilities receive the credit.  Customers don't need to do anything in order to receive the credit- it is automatically applied to their bills.  The credit amounts vary among utilities and from year to year.

If you're not sure whether you're receiving the Climate Credit, the first thing to do is contact your utility, the same as you would do with any billing questions.  That's because although the CPUC oversees the credit and can help with any remaining questions you have, your utility is best positioned to access your individual records and answer questions about individual accounts. 
     

2017 Climate Credit Amounts 

    Electric Bill Provider           Credit Applied to Bill      
SDG&E $29.62
PG&E $17.40
Liberty Utilities $23.72
SCE      $31
Pacific Power $106.94

Climate Credit FAQs

What is this credit? How is it calculated? How is it related to the cluimate change fight?  Read our FAQs to find out.

What is the California Climate Credit?

The California Climate Credit is a bill credit that is part of California's efforts to fight climate change.  The credit is from a state government program that requires power plants and other large industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy carbon pollution permits from auctions managed by the Air Resources Board.

Who is eligible for the Climate Credit?

Residential households and small businesses that are customers of the investor-owned utilities (IOUs) receive the California Climate Credit.  Customers will automatically receive the Climate Credit if they have an open account with the utility and are receiving utility service during the period the Credit is distributed.

Residential households that are eligible include:

All California residential customers that receive electricity from an investor-owned utility company, electric service provider or community choice aggregation provider.  This includes customers of Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, PacifiCorp, and Liberty Utilities, and the community choice aggregators Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power.

Small businesses that are eligible include:

  • All California small business customers that receive electricity from an investor-owned utility company, electric service provider or community choice aggregation provider.  This includes customers of Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, PacifiCorp, and Liberty Utilities, and the community choice aggregators Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power.  Small business customers are non-residential commercial, industrial, or agricultural customers that typically use less than 20 kilowatts (kW) of maximum power in a month.  Nonprofit organizations and schools also qualify.  These customers are all eligible if their power demand hasn't exceeded 20 kW more than three times in the last year.

Why am I receiving a Climate Credit?  Do I need to "sign up" for the credit?

You are receiving the credit because you are a customer of a utility regulated by the CPUC, and the credit is a program the CPUC created. You don't need to do anything to receive the credit- It will automatically appear on your bill.

Households and small businesses are receiving the Climate Credit to protect them from cost increases and to give people additional opportunities to take advantage of energy and money-saving upgrades that also help fight climate change.

Why does the credit amount vary by utility?

The credit amounts do vary between each utility.  Each utility provides a different amount, but all customers at that utility will receive the same amount. In other words, PG&E customers receive a different amount than SCE customers do-but every PG&E residential customer gets the same amount.

This is because many different factors determine the amount of money available for the Climate Credit, including the amount of GHG allowances sold and the number of customers that are splitting the money.

When will I receive the Climate Credit?

Residential households: 

  • The electric Climate Credit is applied twice per year in the spring and fall - for most customers, it will be on April and October bills.

Small businesses: 

  •  The Climate Credit appears on each monthly electric bill.

Billing periods vary by utility and may not always coincide with a calendar month.  If you don't see a credit on your April or October bill it will appear on the following month's bill.

What if I don't receive my credit?  What should I do?

While all eligible active customers should receive the credit in the spring and fall, errors can occur. If you don't see the credit on your bill in October or November (for the fall credit), or in April or May (for the spring credit) the first thing to do is contact your utility.

While you can always contact the CPUC if you have concerns or questions, we suggest you try your utility first. That is because your utility can directly access your individual records, tell you whether you're receiving the credit, and correct any errors directly.

Is the credit amount related to my electricity use?

Residential households: No, all residential customers of the same electricity will receive an equal amount regardless of the amount of energy they use.  Whether you receive a credit, or how much you receive, is not connected to the amount of energy you use. You are getting this credit as your share of payment from a state program.

Small businesses: Yes. The credit is tied to the amount of carbon pollution costs in small business electricity rates, and the actual credit received each month depends on small business customers' electricity rates and how much electricity they use.

What will I see on my bill?

Customers will see the following: 

  • A line Item "CA Climate Credit" or "California Climate Credit" on their bills with the amount of the credit.
  • A bill message briefly explaining the credit

Will Net Energy Metering or NEM customers receive a Climate Credit?  What about customers with solar panels or an electric vehicle?

Yes, NEM customers receive the credit.  so do customers who have solar and/or an electric vehicle.  The Climate Credit goes to all residential electricity customers.  Having solar does not affect your credit either way.

What if there is a credit remaining on my account balance after the California Climate Credit is applied to my bill?

Any carryover balance will be applied to your next month's bill.  If there is a balance, customers may ask for a refund check instead of having the balance applied to your next month's bill.

I have a small business.  Am I eligible?  What size credit will I receive?

For the purposes of the Climate Credit, small business is defined as any non-residential customers on a general service or agricultural rate, whose usage doesn't exceed 20 kilowatts in more than 3 months out of the previous 12 month period. In other words, small business means "non-residential customers with usage that is usually relatively low." If you meet these criteria, you receive the small business Climate Credit. 

The amount you receive is based on your usage and other factors. The credit is tied to the level of carbon pollution costs in electricity rates, and the actual credit received each month depends on small business customers' electricity rates and how much electricity they use.

How is the credit amount calculated?

Residential households:  The utilities receive proceeds from greenhouse gas allowance auctions.  Under rules adopted by the California Public Utilities Commision, which regulates California investor-owned utility companies, each utility divides all available funds equally among its residential households.

Small businesses:  The California Public Utilities Commission adopted formulas to calculate the credits.  The amount of the monthly credit depends on your electricity usage that month.

If the credit is from the State, and not the utility, why is it on my utility bill?

We agree, this can be confusing! But the credit is delivered this way because putting the credit on your bill is the most cost effective way to return it to customers. This approach maximizes the amount of savings each household and small business will receive. 

I am on the CARE/ESA or medical baseline rate, will I get the credit?

Yes. All residential electricity customers of participating utilities (PG&E, SDG&E, SCE, Liberty and Pacific Power) get the Climate Credit.

I have a second home/multiple residential accounts. Will all of them receive the credit?

Yes. All eligible accounts get the credit; it's not limited to one household per person. 

I live in a mobile home park, am I eligible to receive the Climate Credit?

Yes. Residential customers who live in mobile homes, or any "master metered" arrangement where a landlord and not the individual residence receives the utility bill directly, are eligible. The master metered customer that receives the utility bill is required by law to pass on all bill credits (including this one) to their tenants. The utilities provide information to master meter customers to make sure they know how much Climate Credit to return to their tenants.

I am a public utility customer. Why don't I get the credit?

Customers of public utilities (like SMUD and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power or LADWP) don't get the Climate Credit because the CPUC does not regulate public utilities. The Climate Credit is a CPUC-established program, and it only applies to the investor-owned utilities we regulate.

For how many years will I receive a Climate Credit?

Right now the Climate Credit is expected to continue at least through 2020.

Will the size of my Climate Credit change over time?

Yes. The size of the Climate Credit depends on factors that change from year to year, but the credit will always be calculated according to rules established by the CPUC.

What is the Cap-and-Trade Program?

Check out our page dedicated to the Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Program.

Will my utility rates increase as a result of Cap-and-Trade?

California has a variety of programs to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, one of which is the Cap-and-Trade Program.  Electricity providers face GHG costs when they produce electricity from fuels that put GHGs into the atmosphere.  Natural gas utilities face GHG cost associated with their deliveries of natural gas to customers.  These costs will be reflected in customer bills - in generation rates for electric customers and in transportation rates for natural gas customers.  The Climate Credit will help to offset bill increases for customers and give people additional opportunities to invest in energy and money-saving upgrades.

What is AB 32?

 The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, or Assembly Bill (AB) 32, is California's law to reduce carbon pollution and fight climate change.  AB 32 mandates that California reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and then maintains that reduction (about 15% from current levels).

Which government agency is in charge of enforcing greenhouse gas reduction laws?

The lead agency is the California Air Resources Board (ARB). This is also the agency that sets state standards to clean the air and promote clean vehicles and clean fuels.

Where can I find more information about California's efforts to fight climate change?

 

Here are a few useful links: