| SAN FRANCISCO, March 31
SAN FRANCISCO, March 31 California residents and
small businesses will receive a first-of-its-kind climate credit
on their utility bills starting on Tuesday, as the state's
ambitious greenhouse gas reduction program begins to affect the
pocketbooks of average citizens.
While millions of Californians will see a credit averaging
$35 on their April electricity bills due to the state's cap and
trade program, oil companies in the state are warning that the
program will raise gasoline prices next year.
Under the program, large California utilities are given
carbon permits for free by the state but must sell them and use
the revenue to protect ratepayers from higher electricity bills.
The state's 15-month-old cap and trade program is a key tool
in meeting its lofty climate change goals.
The amount a household receives will depend upon the extent
to which its utility company's electricity generation is deemed
clean. The lowest payment of $29.82 will go out to customers of
Pacific Gas & Electric, which produces 60 percent of
its electricity from carbon-emissions free sources like
hydroelectric, solar and nuclear.
Small businesses will receive the credit every month, which
will be based on the amount of electricity they use.
State officials on Monday urged consumers to use the money
to invest in energy efficient home upgrades, including more
efficient lights and appliances.
"The Climate Credit is made to households and small
businesses to promote a cleaner, more energy efficient
California, giving millions of Californians a stake in the fight
for clean air and a healthy environment," said California Public
Utilities Commission president Michael Peevey.
Residents could also save the money and use it toward higher
gasoline prices, which are expected to rise when the
cap-and-trade program expands to cover distributors of
transportation fuels next year.
At current carbon prices, California drivers would see a 12
cent per gallon increase at the pump in 2015.
Although oil prices hinge on macroeconomic factors like
global supply and demand, oil company executives are already
poised to put the blame for higher gas prices on the cap and
Michael Wirth, who oversees Chevron's refining and chemical
businesses, said earlier this month the cap and trade program
could make it too expensive for the world's No. 2 oil company to
continue to operate refineries in California. Chevron
runs the state's two largest oil refineries.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll)