Excessive Electricity Use Tax

In November 2012, the City of Arcata citizens passed Measure I, electing to levy a tax on excessive electricity use in residential households. Passing with a vote of 68% to 32%, the measure will assess a 45% tax on residential household meters that use more than 600% of baseline electricity or more than an average of 3 residential households from 1 meter. 

What Is the Goal of the Tax?

The goal of the tax is to:

  • Assist the City in meeting its adopted greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Since the adoption of the EEUT as well as the promotion of additional energy efficiency measures, residential electric use in Arcata has decreased by 9.3% from 2014 levels. 
  • Align the City of Arcata with emerging California energy policy,
  • Create a disincentive for excessive or as PG&E describes it “egregious” (footnote 1) energy use in residential neighborhoods

How Much Would My Current Electricity Usage Have to Be for the Tax to Apply to Me?

The electricity portion of your monthly PG&E bill would have to exceed the following monthly amounts for the tax to be levied. (Based on 2021 PG&E rates)
 Baseline quantities for average residential electricity use is determined by billing rate structure, service territory, season and heating source type. Residences with a permanently installed electric heating system (e.g., an electric heat pump) can be provided an all-electric Baseline Allowance that is 92% higher than residences without a permanently installed electric heating system under the basic electric Baseline Allowance.

If a City of Arcata resident chooses to upgrade to an electric heat pump, then they will have to contact PG&E with the intent to update their baseline status to be All-Electric instead of Basic Electric.  To do this contact 1-800-743-5000 and request an in-line change.  The City of Arcata resident will then submit a case to PG&E stating that will want their heating source to be changed from gas to electric and are requesting to be a part of the All-Electric Baseline.  Then a representative from PG&E will call the resident within 10 days of submitting a case.  The representative will need access to the resident’s meter and update their account accordingly.  One tip for getting in touch with PG&E is to request a call back.  This ensures that a representative will call back and the City of Arcata resident will not have to attempt to correspond with a robotic customer service agent.

kWh Per Month to be 600% of Baseline    
Season Basic Electric All-Electric
Summer 1278 1872
Winter 1458 3456

Community Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan

In 2006, the City passed the Community Greenhouse Gas Reduction Plan, which established an emission reduction target of 20% below year 2000 levels by 2012. The excessive electricity use in the residential sector poses a serious challenge to the City’s efforts to decrease the amount of locally-generated greenhouse gas emissions. Electricity use within Arcata’s residential sector has grown at an alarming rate. Between 2000 and 2006, electricity usage in the City increased by approximately 9 million kilowatt-hours (footnote 2). This represents a total increase of 30%. Furthermore, over this time per capita electricity consumption in Arcata has increased 24%, (footnote 3) while per capita electricity consumption for the rest of the State has remained constant over the past 30 years (footnote 4). An assessment of electricity use, conducted by the Schatz Energy Research Center, has revealed that the increase in use is attributable to a relatively small number of residential units that are consuming a significant amount of electricity.


  • Footnote 1: PG&E, May 2012 Testimony in support of application for the 2012, 2013, and 2014 Energy Saving Assistance Program and the California Alternate Rates for Energy Program
  • Footnote 2: City of Arcata. 2008. City of Arcata Updated Greenhouse Gas Inventory 2006. City of Arcata: Environmental Services Department [Internet]
  • Footnote 3: 2000 population figure of 16,651 from US census. 2006 figure estimated from the State of California Department of Finance Demographic Research Unit 2007 figure [Internet]
  • Footnote 4: California Public Utilities Commission [Internet]

Ballot Measure Language

"Shall the City of Arcata impose an electricity users tax rate of 45% on residential customers whose electricity usage exceeds 600% over the established Baseline Allowance with the sole exemption for households receiving an extended Medical Baseline from the electricity service supplier, and automatically terminating in 12 years?"