BY RAMONA DU HOUX
March 1, 2011
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) held its 10th auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances last December. Maine’s portion of the auction receipts will be $1,331,726. One hundred percent of the earnings 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 is a market-based cap-and-trade program used to regulate greenhouse gases. In total, the auction yielded over $48,220,000 for the ten 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. “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 to $1 million grants for large-scale energy efficiency projects, including combined heat and power systems.
Some RGGI funds have been allocated to the installation of a new heat exchanger at Madison Paper, which will reduce costs by over $2 million a year for the company. The energy efficient upgrade will keep 18 workers employed who otherwise would have been let go, due to energy overheads.
The 19 RGGI projects funded in 2009 and 2010 will avoid more than 459,817 metric tons of CO2 polluting the atmosphere and save 533,876 megawatt hours (MW-h) of energy 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. These energy efficiency measures save consumers up to 20 to 30 percent off their energy bills, reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and create jobs.
The next RGGI auction is scheduled for March 9th, 2011. Information is available at http://www.rggi.org/co2-auctions/information.