Sacramento Syndrome is spreading.
It’s a disease that ravishes the brain’s logic and reasoning functions.
The latest symptom is coming this month with your PG&E bill.
It’s called a climate credit.
Twice a year the California Legislature and their partners in insanity at the California Public Utilities Commission are coercing the state’s investor owned utilities to give residential customers and small businesses a credit averaging about $35.
So why is the state forcing PG&E to do this?
Believe it nor not, they are convinced that the $35 credit will reduce global warming.
You can’t make stuff like this up.
Policy wonks, political hacks, bureaucratic bozos, and environmental zealots are all convinced you are going to use this $35 to specifically reduce your carbon footprint.
The nice little CPUC form letter on slick (read that more expensive paper stock) accompanying your PG&E bill is akin to the one Gov. George Deukmejian got a lot of garbage over for sending with checks to taxpayers when he refunded part of a rarity in California — a state budget surplus. In other words, be grateful to the Great Powers in Sacramento that you got the $35 credit.
You are told you can use the credit any way you please. They hope, though, that you will consider buying more efficient lights and appliances. Let’s see. That $35 may get you three light bulbs and perhaps cover half the sales tax for a high efficiency washing machine.
What will happen, of course, is you will simply pay what you are owed PG&E minus the credit. It’s human nature. It’s reality.
Now here’s the rub. That $35 credit is essentially money the state took from you in the first place. It’s outlined in the Great Wizard of Oz’s Hot Air Balloon Guide better known as the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. You read that right. The State of California views its legislation as global. It explains why some of the credits that big greenhouse gas generators in this state are obtaining end up reforesting woodlands in Georgia.
The entire idea of making the cost of living and doing business higher in California was to supposedly improve the air quality here and not in Georgia. The California Legislature outdid themselves in the unintended consequences department on this one.
That was not the intent of the legislature. But then again if you listen to the politicians that voted on the 2006 Global Warming Act they will tell you the law they passed was just a starting point. That means there was nothing specific in the act to put in place specific programs. They essentially gave the bureaucracy the power to develop how far the law would reach. The only thing that is worse than politicians making laws and regulations are career bureaucrats making laws and regulations.
Apologists have gone as far as to say that less global warming in Georgia eventually benefits California. That’s fine but why are we footing the bill for what is essentially foreign aid to another state?
Now for what really should get you hopping mad.
Sacramento is playing you for a fool.
Who do you think pays for climate credits that corporations are forced to buy in the name of reducing greenhouse gases? You and I do. That’s because businesses pass such “taxes” and fees on to you in the price of their products.
If you doubt that, get ready for the 12 cent hike in gas prices coming to a California gas pump near you in 2015. That’s what the Western States Petroleum Association estimates will be the minimum cost to consumers per gallon for the fact oil companies will be paying 40 percent or $18 billion of the $45 billion the greenhouse cap and trade taxes are expected to generate between bow and 2020 based on estimates by the California Legislative Analysts’ Office.
Ultimately consumers will be paying for all $45 billion of those taxes through higher prices. That means you are getting a $70 per year “credit” for a tax that is costing $197.30 a year per Californian.
Here’s the fun part. The CPUC is required by law to allow PG&E rates that cover their operating costs while assuring they can get an 11.35 percent return on their investment. That’s bureaucratic lingo for profit. And while PG&E has earned higher returns by slashing into promised expenditures they made in rate increase cases, rest assured the CPUC has allowed them to get rate hikes to cover the cost of doing business including litigation.
This isn’t the first time the CPUC has used PG&E bills to deceive ratepayers.
Remember deregulation? For a number of years you paid each month toward bonds PG&E floated to cover the cost of the initial rate reduction everyone got. That was before a series of massive rate hikes that followed as PG&E danced toward bankruptcy thanks to high flying spending on corporate perks and dubious power deals.
Perhaps you might want to “pocket” the credit to pay for gas in 2015. If you buy 100 gallons of gas a month you will end up paying $144 more in 2015 at the pump thanks to the greenhouse tax which is funding the $70 a year you are getting a credit for on your PG&E bill.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.