Maine has now received a total of $111.3 million from RGGI for clean energy program -lowers carbon emissions


By Ramona du Houx

On December 6, 2019, Maine received $2.68 million dollars through the 46th auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission allowances traded.  That follows the 45th auction of September 9, 2019 where Maine received $2.49 million dollars.

Clearly the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) continues to work well for the New England and Mid-Atlantic states participate in the program.

RGGI is a market-based collaboration among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change while generating economic growth.

It is a cap and trade program that reduces CO2 emissions from power plants generating more than 25 megawatts. In order to show compliance with the cap, power plants must purchase a credit or “allowance,” for each ton of CO2, they emit. These purchases are made at quarterly auctions conducted by RGGI. The proceeds from the auctions are allocated back to the participating states in proportion to the amount of carbon subject to regulation in each state.

“RGGI provides dividends to Maine people in two ways,” said Chairman Philip L. Bartlett, II. “First, cap and trade is a proven way to reduce CO2 emissions; second, the auctions generate funds that we invest in energy efficiency for Maine residents through Efficiency Maine.”

Revenues flowing to Maine since 2007, when Governor John Baldacci heralded in the program, go into the Efficiency Maine Trust (EMT) where they are used to finance rate relief, energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.  

Maine has now received a total of $111.3 million from RGGI.  The nine participating states have reduced CO2 emissions from eligible power plants by over 50 percent since 2007. 

“RGGI has provided Maine people with significant benefits since its inception, both in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and through investment of auction revenue in energy efficiency,” added Chairman Phil Bartlett, who was a principle Maine state senator who worked hard on the legislation that was passed by every state legislator back in 2007. 

Through its first six years of existence, RGGI investments were found to return $2.31 billion in lifetime energy bill savings to more than 161,000 households and 6,000 businesses that participated in programs funded by RGGI proceeds, and to 1.5 million households and over 37,000 businesses that received direct bill assistance.

The success of RGGI prompted Pennsylvania to join the coalition of REGGI states.

In November on 2019 Governor Tom Wolf took executive action instructing the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join RGGI. The Pennsylvania DEP will draft a regulation to present before the Environmental Quality Board for approval, and a public comment period will follow.

“Climate change is the most critical environmental threat confronting the world, and power generation is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Governor Wolf. “Given the urgency of the climate crisis facing Pennsylvania and the entire planet, the commonwealth must continue to take concrete, economically sound and immediate steps to reduce emissions. Joining RGGI will give us that opportunity to better protect the health and safety of our citizens.”

Reducing CO2 emissions is a top priority for the Wolf Administration. In January 2019, Governor Wolf signed an executive order to set Pennsylvania’s first statewide climate goals, aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2025 and by 80 percent by 2050, compared to 2005 levels.

“This initiative represents a unique opportunity for Pennsylvania to become a leader in combatting climate change and grow our economy by partnering with neighboring states,” said Patrick McDonnell, secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. “As a major electricity producer, Pennsylvania has a significant opportunity to reduce emissions and demonstrate its commitment to addressing climate change through a program with a proven track record.”

The scientific consensus is the planet is experiencing climate change. Now most citizens can see the changes happening around them. The impacts are felt everywhere. The stronger RGGI becomes the more it helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combating climate change.