In response to the recent spike in natural gas prices, the California Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to pay consumers annual gas and electric credits as quickly as possible.
All five commissioners voted in favor, agreeing that this is just the first step in solving the problem of gas price volatility.
Commissioner Darcy L. Houck said gas and electric customers “can expect $90 to $120” in relief. Public utility customers not regulated by the commission, such as those who get their electricity from the Los Angeles Department of Water, are not covered. Southern California Gas Co. customers. have the right.
“What we’re hearing is that immediate help is needed,” commission president Alice Bushing Reynolds said. “Each utility has resources for customers to provide additional support,” she said, acknowledging that the loan may not be large enough to fully cover recent increasing gas bills.
“This is not a long-term solution to the trend we’re seeing around volatile natural gas prices,” Reynolds said, pointing to another commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday to discuss how to deal with rising natural gas prices in California .
The first payments of Art California Climate Credit, which are typically made in April through credits on consumers’ electric and gas bills, will be moved up “as soon as practicable,” according to the CPUC. Secondary repayments on electricity loans normally occur in October and have not been postponed.
During public comments at the meeting, one panelist said she paid $90 for gas for a one-bedroom apartment for eight days in January and accused SoCalGas of being a monopoly that needed to be curbed.
Another caller said his SoCalGas bill for January was $800, double what he paid the month before.
Another SoCalGas customer called to express her “outrage [the] exorbitant increase” in gas prices “without notice”. In late December, the utility company released a statement announcing that consumer prices would rise in January.
“We wear extra jackets at home,” she said, “and it’s not enough.”
Most of the utilities that submitted responses to the commission favored the measure to accelerate the credits, but some companies disagreed specifically with the power credits, citing stable electricity prices for consumers and noting that electricity consumption is likely to increase in the summer.
One utility company, San Diego Gas & Electric, has offered to issue electricity credits during the peak electricity use months of August and September.
They argued that if electricity prices rise in the coming months, the loans will have already been paid and will not bring relief to consumers.
California Assn. of Small and Multijurisdictional Utilities argued that the early payment decision “contradicts the Commission’s rationale for the current timelines for [climate credit] payment that seeks to avoid providing [climate credits] during peak periods.”
A CPUC spokesman acknowledged that the payments were not calculated to account for higher wholesale natural gas prices. The credit was introduced to offset consumers’ higher energy costs as a result of the cap-and-trade program, in which the California Air Resources Board sells permits for carbon pollution to industrial greenhouse gas emitters.