By Ramona du Houx
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) brought in $2,541,136. 51 for various weatherization, and energy efficiency programs, in Maine from the 27th cap-and-trade auction. RGGI is the nation’s first market-based cap-and-trade regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In total the program has made the state $62,221,516. 39 since the auctions began.
Currently nine Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states participate in RGGI, the nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas pollution.
Maine was instrumental in leading the effort to form RGGI during the Baldacci administration when David Littell was Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. Companies, stakeholders and environmental organizations testified on behalf of the proposed RGGI bill before it was voted on by the state’s legislature.
“RGGI is important because it puts business, industry, along with the environment all on the same side. It was passed almost unanimously and with tremendous bipartisan support,” said former Governor John E. Baldacci. “It’s a model for other states and Federally.”
The Obama administration has stated that RGGI is a successful model for a regional approach to cap-and-trade.
“At the start of our third RGGI control period, we look forward to continuing RGGI’s success,” said Katie Dykes, Deputy Commissioner for Energy of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and a Vice-Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. “The region has set a national example by reducing power sector carbon pollution over 40 percent since 2005 while maintaining economic growth.”
RGGI’s regional approach also includes continued work with Eastern Canadian Provinces that have become partners in the area’s approach to renewable energy, energy transmission and carbon capture methods. The Northeastern Regional Governor’s and Eastern Canadian Premier’s Conference, hosted and convened by Governor Baldacci, held in Bar Harbor, Maine, in 2008, specifically addressed a comprehensive regional approach to energy concerns and how states and provinces could best create jobs, energy security, and savings for residents by working together. RGGI was on the agenda.
Now, with more data, RGGI can show how the program has benefited the region economically.
“RGGI’s market-based mechanism does more than set a clear and enforceable cap on carbon dioxide pollution – RGGI also delivers environmental, economic, and consumer benefits to the RGGI states with wise allowance investments that save ratepayers money and reduce emissions,” said Littell, a Commissioner of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.
In Maine the some of the funds generated from RGGI go to programs at Efficiency Maine to benefit businesses transform their workplaces to become energy efficient. Some companies have transitioned their business to energy efficient ways, in part, because of the boost RGGI funds gave them.
In 2005 seven states Maine, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” committing these states to move forward with RGGI. Special provisions were made in the MOU for Massachusetts and Rhode Island to join the effort at any time prior to January 1, 2008, which they did. Subsequently New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie removed the state from RGGI in 2011. While the remaining nine RGGI member states continue to take in revenues from RGGI auctions of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances New Jersey has missed out on these revenues.
The nine states participating in RGGI announced the results of their 27th auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances on March, 13, 2015.
15,272,670 CO2 allowances were sold at the auction at a clearing price of $5.41. Allowances sold represent 100 percent of the CO2 allowances offered for sale by the nine states. Bids for the CO2 allowances ranged from $2.05 to $12.50 per allowance.
“A hallmark of RGGI’s success is the auctioning of allowances and the strategic investments of the auction proceeds,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Commissioner of the Maryland Public Service Commission and Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. “For more than six years these investments have helped us build a more resilient energy infrastructure, a cleaner environment and stronger economy for our region.”
The auction generated more than $82 million for reinvestment in strategic energy and consumer benefit programs, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, direct bill assistance, and GHG abatement programs. Cumulative proceeds from all RGGI CO2 allowance auctions now exceed $2 billion dollars.
In 2014 RGGI states updated their systems, making key revisions.
“Today’s results demonstrate that the revisions we made last year have strengthened this market-based program to reduce carbon pollution,” said Joe Martens, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and a Vice-Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. “Emissions continue to decline and the carbon market is functioning smoothly.