By Ramona du Houx

December 3rd, 2010 ·

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) held its 10th Auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances on Wednesday December 1st. Maine’s portion of the auction receipts will be $1,331,726; 100 percent of which will be used to benefit electricity consumers statewide through energy efficiency programs. In all, Maine has earned a total of $23,544,204 since the first auction over two years ago in September 2008.

RGGI Inc, the non-profit which administers the auctions, announced that 24,755,000 CO2 allowances for the first three-year control period (2009-2011) and 1,172,000 CO2 allowances for the second control period (2012-2014) sold at $1.86 per allowance. RGGI is a market-based cap-and-trade program used to regulate greenhouse gases. In total, the Auction yielded over $48,220,000 for the 10 states including Maine which participate in RGGI.

“With each successful auction, RGGI shows that market-based climate protection programs work. RGGI boosts Maine’s economy by using auction proceeds to lower energy bills for Maine’s businesses and consumers, to create employment and to make our businesses more competitive,” said David Littell, Board Chair of the RGGI, Inc., and a Maine Public Utilities Commissioner. “With the sale of more than half of the offered CO2 allowances, the ten-state RGGI program continues to be a model for the nation.”

Maine has invested $7.1 million of RGGI funds in its Large Project Energy Efficiency Grant Program which provides $100,000 – $1 million grants for large-scale energy efficiency projects, including combined heat and power systems. An example is the installation of a new heat exchanger at Madison Paper which will reduce costs by over $2 million a year for the company – enough to support retention of 18 employees. The 19 RGGI projects funded in 2009 and 2010 will avoid more than 459,817 metric tons of CO2 and save 533,876 megawatts per hour (MWh) over their lifetime.

Proceeds from all the RGGI auctions now total over $777,500,000. Across the region, states are investing over 80 percent of these funds in programs such as building retrofits, heating system replacements and appliance upgrades which save consumers money (up to 20-30 percent off energy bills), reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs. Investments are being made in programs which support for clean renewable energy sources including installation of solar, wind and geothermal energy generation systems in commercial and industrial facilities, and deployment of solar energy and hot water systems at homes and businesses.

The next RGGI auction is scheduled for March 9th, 2011.