- The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a carbon cap-and-trade system in the Northeast US, has generated $1.3 billion in benefits for the nine participating states, a new report from the Analysis Group finds.
- Funding from RGGI saved consumers $460 million in lower electric bills over the past three years and created 14,000 jobs, the research firm reported, mostly due to consumer rebates and efficiency programs boosted by the carbon trading plan.
- Carbon emissions from the states have dropped by about a third since the market opened, a study co-author told Bloomberg, but power plant owners lost nearly $500 million from 2012 to 2014 due to decreased demand and the cost of emissions credits.
After an overhaul last year, the nine-state RGGI market appears to be returning benefits to the residents of the Northeast. According to research from the Analysis Group, the carbon trading program has decreased the region's high electric bills, created jobs, and helped bring down greenhouse gas pollution.
The only losers in the scenario, it seemed, were generation owners. They lost almost $500 million in just the past two years.
Some of those losses come from increased cost for pollution credits. Prices that generators must pay to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide were revised upward last year, after concerns that the old costs were not providing enough incentive to cut emissions. Pollution credits were going for $5.50 per ton in the last quarterly auction, Bloomberg reports, nearly double the $3 per ton they were bought at a year earlier.
RGGI, the first carbon trading program of its kind in the US, could soon have some new partners. A number of state regulators and utility sector stakeholders have suggested that putting a price on carbon — through cap-and-trade or a carbon adder in electricity markets — could be the most efficient and simple way to comply with the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan.
RGGI accounts for emissions from Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) pulled his state out of the regional pact in 2011. California also has its own cap and trade market, while Virginia and Pennsylvania officials have discussed joining RGGI.