July 16, 2013
DEEP Proposes Revised Regulations to Strengthen RGGI
New Cap on Power Plants Will Reduce Carbon Emissions
Changes to RGGI program will protect the environment, provide funds for clean energy projects, and create jobs
In coordination with eight other participating states, Connecticut’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today proposed revised regulations to strengthen the five-year-old Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – which caps harmful carbon emissions from plants that generate electricity and provides funding for clean energy investments.
“RGGI is playing a major role in reducing carbon emissions, providing incentives for cleaner power generation and funding clean energy initiatives – all at a minimal cost to electric ratepayers,” said DEEP Commissioner Daniel C. Esty. “The changes proposed for the program will move us forward toward a cleaner energy future in a manner that is consistent with the needs of electric ratepayers, strengthen our economy, and create jobs.”
RGGI was the nation’s first program to use an innovative market-based mechanism to cap and cost-effectively reduce the outflow of carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. Under the program, emission allowances are sold at auctions and the proceeds are reinvested in projects that support clean energy technologies and greater energy efficiency, and help lower consumer energy bills while driving further reductions in greenhouse gas pollution.
The RGGI region has seen climate pollution from power plants decline overall by 40% from 2005 to 2012. The proposed revised regulations would lock in the emission reductions achieved to date by lowering the 2014 regional cap from 165 million tons of CO2 to 91 million, which is more closely aligned with current emissions levels. To achieve further pollution reductions, the cap would decline an additional 2.5 percent year from 2015 to 2020. The cumulative regional effect of the lower cap is an estimated reduction of 86 million tons of carbon emissions, equivalent to taking more than 16 million cars off the road for one year.
As a result of funds from 20 RGGI auctions that have been held since September 2008, Connecticut has invested $59 million in energy efficiency through the electric utilities as managed by the state’s Energy Efficiency Board and $15 million in renewable energy projects through the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.
“Changes in the RGGI program are consistent with President Obama’s climate change initiative and its focus on reducing carbon emissions from power plants,” said Commissioner Esty. “Connecticut and the RGGI region have taken the lead on this issue and created a model for our nation. Having suffered through Storms Irene, and Sandy, the October snow storm, and other recent extreme weather events, our state and its residents know all too well the devastating impact of more frequent and severe storms linked to climate change.”
The proposed changes in the RGGI program are the result of an extensive two-year program review by the nine participating New England and Mid-Atlantic states.
A public comment period on the proposed revised regulations opened today and runs through August 16. There is also a public hearing scheduled for August 14 at 10:30 am in Hearing Room 1, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain.
At the conclusion of the comment period DEEP will compile a record in response to comments, make any appropriate changes to the proposed revised regulations, and seek approval of them at the October meeting of the General Assembly’s Regulation Review Committee.
The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states participating in RGGI (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) have implemented the first mandatory market-based regulatory program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Current, power sector CO2 emissions are capped at 165 million short tons.
RGGI is composed of individual CO2 budget trading programs in each state, based on each state’s independent legal authority. A CO2 allowance represents a limited authorization to emit one short ton of CO2, as issued by a respective state. A regulated power plant must hold CO2 allowances equal to its emissions to demonstrate compliance for each three-year control period. RGGI’s second control period began on January 1, 2012 and extends through December 31, 2014. For more information visit www.rggi.org