December 6, 2009

Article and photo By Ramona du Houx

Maine will receive more than $1.7 million from the sixth Regional Green House Gas Initiative, RGGI, auction, part of a regional cap and trade program used to regulate greenhouse gases. In all, Maine has earned a total of more than $15.2 million since the first auction in September of 2008. The money will benefit consumers in Maine through investments in energy efficiency and programs that reduce energy costs.

“RGGI” stands for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which works to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in two ways:

1. It places a cap on the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2 – a ‘greenhouse’ gas) RGGI power plants can collectively emit and requires those power plants to purchase allowances from RGGI for their emissions. This provides an incentive to reduce emissions – doing so saves money because fewer allowances are required to cover plant operations.

2.  It issues a set number of allowances to the 10 participating RGGI states; those states in turn can sell the allowances at quarterly auctions. In Maine, the proceeds are used to reduce green house gas emissions by funding projects that save both energy and money.

“RGGI auctions continue to run like clockwork,” said David Littell, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Chair of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Inc. Board of Directors. “Six successful auctions, more than 100 bidders and $494 million for green energy and green jobs – RGGI is showing that cap-and-trade works.”

“The responsible use of RGGI auction proceeds in Maine is providing energy savings and has potential to spur millions of dollars of private investment in energy efficiency and conservation projects. We look forward to the continued success of the Energy and Carbon Savings Trust and Efficiency Maine programs,” said Sharon Reishus, Chair of the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

The major benefit of RGGI is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions throughout the state and the region – reducing our contribution to global climate change. But there will be other benefits, including reduced reliance on foreign oil and a greater investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

6th RGGI Auction pricing:

The 2009 vintage allowances offered in Wednesday’s auction sold at a price of $2.05, the 2012 vintage sold at $1.86.

About the RGGI power plants:

There are 6 power plants in Maine participating in RGGI; Casco Bay Energy in Veazie, Rumford Power, FPL Energy in Wyman, Westbrook Energy Center, and Verso in Androscoggin and Bucksport.

About the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative:

The 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states participating in RGGI (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) have designed the first market-based, mandatory cap-and-trade program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Power sector CO2 emissions are capped at current levels through 2014. The cap will then be reduced by 2.5 percent in each of the four years 2015 through 2018, for a total reduction of 10 percent.

A CO2 allowance represents a limited authorization to emit one ton of CO2, as issued by a respective participating state. A regulated power plant must hold CO2 allowances equal to its emissions to demonstrate compliance at the end of each three-year compliance period. The first compliance period for fossil fuel-fired electric generators under the 10-state CO2 Budget Trading Programs took effect on January 1, 2009 and extends through December 31, 2011. For more information about RGGI, turn to: http://www.rggi.org .The complete Market Monitor Report for Auction 6 is available at: http://www.rggi.org/states/program_investments