California’s regulator is fast-tracking utility bills as natural gas prices rise
California residents suffering from high gas and electric bills can look forward to some relief after the Public Utilities Commission voted Thursday to accelerate about $1.3 billion in utility loans to consumers.
The payments, which are part of the state’s effort to offset increasingly volatile energy costs, are typically distributed in April and October.
“One of the highest spikes in natural gas prices recently took place in December. This price volatility is another great reminder of the urgent need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels in our homes and energy system,” said Commissioner Darcy L. Houck. “We expect utilities to process this assistance as quickly as possible.”
Loans, called California Climate Creditfunded by revenue from the government’s cap-and-trade program, which sells permits for carbon pollution from industrial greenhouse gas emissions to offset higher energy costs.
Loan amounts, which are usually paid in two installments, vary by utility. Pacific Gas & Electric customers can expect a total of $76 in credits, Southern California Edison customers $142, and San Diego Gas & Electric customers $121. Customers will automatically receive credit, regardless of energy consumption and account balance.
Unusually high natural gas bills this winter have squeezed households across the state. Wholesale prices up 63% since October This is reported by Bloomberg.
The public prosecutor’s office of the commission submitted a statement emergency traffic to relieve customers from last month’s “surge” in high gas prices as cold weather prompts more Californians to crank up their thermostats.
Utilities cited rising commodity prices as one of the main factors behind higher-than-expected bills. Infrastructure repair and high demand for imported gas also reduced supply. Meanwhile, some consumer advocates calling for an investigation in possible market manipulation.
The housing and communal services commission is determined to have a broader discussion of the price of natural gas next tuesday.
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