Putting a price on carbon can happen even at the municipal or local level. Why not add a tax on fossil fuels delivered by utilities? That’s being proposed in some Bay Area California cities. Learn about “Utility User Tax Restructuring” proposals. Preston Jordan, Action Director of the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville (LWVBAE), will present on Tues April 24, 2018, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM PDT
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2530 San Pablo Ave, Ste F, Berkeley, CA , suite F or
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The situation in California and Berkeley, Albany, and Emeryville:
Currently, combusting a dollar of natural gas in our homes releases about four times the greenhouse gas pollution as does consuming a dollar of electricity*. Yet almost half of Californians pay the same tax rate on each. Also, on average we each produce more greenhouse gas pollution in total from using natural gas than electricity in our homes. The current utility user tax structure provides an incentive to pollute more. Restructuring the tax to reflect greenhouse gases would motivate us to pollute less.
Locally, as of 2015, the most recently reported inventory, Berkeley reduced its greenhouse gas pollution by 12% compared to the pollution it emitted in 2000. This indicates Berkeley is behind on meeting its goal to reduce emissions 33% by 2020. Emeryville and Albany are also behind on meeting their targets. At the same time, homes in the area emit more than twice as much greenhouse gas pollution from using natural gas as electricity. Restructuring their utility user taxes as greenhouse pollution taxes would provide a pollution reduction measure in addition to those in their Climate Action Plans, and therefore increase the chance of meeting their goals.
But there is a problem: Currently, Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E’s) billing system can only apply the same tax rate to the cost of natural gas and electricity. PG&E will continue to provide billing even for East Bay Community Energy customers. Berkeley and Albany (as well as Oakland) City Councils have passed resolutions asking PG&E to upgrade its billing system to provide for differentiated tax rates. Advocacy is on-going.
*This ratio will increase as the percent of electricity used in California generated by renewable sources increases by law. For instance 33% must be from renewables by 2020 and 50% by 2030.
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