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Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative States Announce New Program Changes

Nine states from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic that form the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) have set out new goals for Greenhouse Gas (GGH) emissions reductions post 2020. In a press release issued last week, the RGGI states set out their consensus for a proposed ambitious program to further reduce Greenhouse Gases.

As noted in the press release:

“The RGGI states have a long standing record of leadership towards a clean energy economy, which continues with today’s proposal.The RGGI states propose a regional cap trajectory that will provide an additional 30% cap reduction by the year 2030, relative to 2020 levels. The proposed regional program changes include the addition of an Emissions Containment Reserve (ECR) wherein states can withhold allowances from auction if emission reduction costs are lower than projected. The proposed ECR is an innovative way to adaptively respond to supply and demand in the market.”

Going forward the RGGI member states will seek input from stakeholders at a meeting on September 25. Thereafter, the proposal will be modified, if necessary to address comments and a final set of “model rules” will be issued. The model rules will guide the individual states in their statutory and regulatory process to develop modifications to their individual CO2 Budget Trading Programs.
The benefits obtained so far and the projected additional benefits from program changes are outlined in the press release as:
“*Reducing emissions: The RGGI states have already significantly reduced power sector carbon emissions, cutting them almost in half. The 2030 cap proposed today will be more than 65% lower than RGGI’s 2009 starting cap, continuing the participating states’ progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
*Auctioning and reinvestment: RGGI’s auctioning of allowances has especially been praised as an innovative program design element. These quarterly regional auctions have generated more than $2.7 billion in proceeds for reinvestment in strategic programs to benefit consumers and build a stronger and cleaner energy system in the RGGI states.
*Economic benefits: Independent reports by the Analysis Group have found that RGGI is generating billions of dollars in net economic benefit and tens of thousands of job-years. Investments funded through RGGI proceeds improve the cost-effectiveness and reliability of the grid by reducing peak demand, which in turn lowers wholesale power prices and helps avoid the need for costly infrastructure investments.
*Health benefits: Other studies, such as a recent independent report by Abt Associates, have found that RGGI has generated public health benefits which have saved hundreds of lives, prevented thousands of asthma attacks, and saved $5.7 billion in health-related economic costs.
*Regular, comprehensive program review: Finally, the program review process itself has been a highly successful and important program element. As part of the previous program review (much of which took place in 2012), changes were implemented which strengthened and improved RGGI’s market-based system. At that time, the RGGI states committed to regular, comprehensive evaluation and improvement, and to begin the next review no later than 2016. The RGGI states have kept that commitment, and have emerged with a proposal for a stronger program which will ensure additional emission reductions out to the year 2030.The RGGI states intend to initiate another program review in 2021 to evaluate the performance of the program changes being proposed today.”