BY RAMONA DU HOUX
December 14, 2011
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), spearheaded by the Baldacci Administration in Maine, brought in $1.5 million to the state from the last cap and trade auction. To date Maine has made $28, 739,255.01 in proceeds that have benefited various weatherization and energy efficiency programs in the state.
“RGGI’s first three years have delivered results: results that generate significant economic benefit while preventing harmful pollutants from entering our air and atmosphere,” said David Littell, a Commissioner of the Maine Public Utilities Commission and Chair of RGGI, Inc. “The auctions have proven to be an effective and efficient way to allocate CO2 allowances. RGGI has demonstrated that market-based solutions work, promoting innovation in low-emissions technologies and providing an economic engine for investments in energy efficiency, workforce training, and bill assistance programs.”
“RGGI is yet another fantastic example of how forward thinking policies bring tangible benefits to Maine homes and businesses. I remember working tirelessly with the Governor, lawmakers and stakeholders to ensure that RGGI was passed in the legislature. We understood that it would result in lower energy costs for Maine,” State Rep. Jon Hinck.
There are ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states participating in the sale of 27,293,000 carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances in the program’s 14th quarterly auction, generating a total of $51.5 million in proceeds. This auction was the final auction of the program’s first three-year control period and brought cumulative auction proceeds to $952 million.
Bids for current control period allowances (2009-2011) ranged from $1.89 to $5.00 per allowance, with a clearing price of $1.89, the minimum reserve price for the auction. Allowances sold represented 63 percent of the 42,983,482 current control period allowances offered for sale by the ten participating states.
The participating states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont also offered a smaller number of CO2 allowances for a future control period (2012-2014), none of which were sold.
Tens of thousands of businesses and families throughout the region are already benefiting from RGGI-funded programs designed to reduce energy bills and support local jobs. Overall, the first three years of the program will result in $1.6 billion in net economic benefit to the region, according to a recent report by the independent consulting firm, The Analysis Group. This translates into an economic benefit of $33 per person in the region, according to the report. In addition, reduced emissions from power plants yield health benefits and a cleaner environment for the residents of the region.
All of these benefits are achieved while the states continue to cap power sector CO2 emissions in the RGGI region. The first control period three-year emissions average (2009-2011) is expected to be the lowest of the decade.
“The RGGI program uses the power of economic markets to tackle one of the greatest environmental challenges for our generation,” said Collin O’Mara, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and Vice Chair of RGGI, Inc. “RGGI has provided power generators with the regulatory certainty they need to invest in our energy infrastructure. At the same time, it enables our states to invest in our local economies and generate cost savings for businesses and residents. Over the past three years, we have successfully supported emissions reductions while generating economic benefits for each of our states.”
As the end of the first control period approaches, the participating states continue preparations for the comprehensive 2012 program review. The states will consider, among other matters, recent reductions in emissions, while working to ensure the environmental integrity and long-term development of the RGGI market.
RGGI is viewed as a standard that could be implemented in regional areas across America with legislation from Congress.
“We must continue to move forward with this same type of vision to deliver cheaper, cleaner energy and address our nation’s addiction to oil. The United State’s Senate failed to act last year to develop a broader Cap-and-Trade program for the nation. It was a missed opportunity and one that shouldn’t have slipped away. If I have the honor to represent Maine in Washington, count on more progressive policies, like RGGI, to have a true champion in the US Senate,” said Hinck.
The next RGGI auction, the first of the second control period, is scheduled for March 14, 2012.