The New England Clean Energy Council (NECEC) —the voice for hundreds of clean energy companies across the region—recently helped to make the nation’s first carbon-trading program even more effective by organizing business messengers to show their support for updating the program’s rules.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is a market-based emissions reduction program that includes participation by Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It requires electricity generators to buy a permit for every ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) they emit from their power plants. The number of permits is capped, so companies that want to emit more must buy additional permits at auction. This provides an economically efficient incentive to reduce the region’s CO2 pollution.
RGGI states invest the proceeds in clean energy programs that benefit consumers: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies. Among the results: RGGI has returned $69 million in bill credits to an estimated 84,000 low-income families, and helped an estimated 2,400 workers secure training in clean energy job skills. The RGGI region has seen considerable declines in greenhouse gas emissions—currently 45 percent below the program’s target.
During the past year’s triennial evaluation of RGGI, NECEC worked with partners Cater Communications and the Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnership to recruit, train, and promote business leaders to make the economic case for strengthening RGGI by tightening the emissions cap, encouraging the states to reset the RGGI cap at current emission levels to lock in recent declines. NECEC and business leaders testified at public hearings, published opinion pieces, met with reporters and editorial boards, recruited signers for letters to the nine states’ governors, and otherwise called for RGGI to be strengthened.
In February 2013, the RGGI states issued a new model rule and cap level that locks in emission reductions achieved to date, and continues to drive additional reductions through 2020.
NECEC and many other Climate Program grantees are now working to help finalize the new rule in each state.
Photo credit: First Wind