Report: Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Working As Designed

Nov 1, 2011

New Hampshire environmental officials presented an updated report on the state of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to lawmakers Tuesday.

As NHPR’s Amy Quinton explains, the report reignites the debate over whether to keep the state in the carbon emission cap and trade program.

The report shows that program, known as RGGI, is working as designed.

Under the program, power plants buy an allowance for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

The report shows that proceeds from the sale of those carbon dioxide emission allowances have brought in almost 33 million dollars to the state.

Those revenues are used to fund energy efficiency projects.

But the report also shows that the price of CO2 allowances has reached rock bottom.

Bob Scott, with the Department of Environmental Services, says there are excess allowances because actual greenhouse gas emissions have decreased since the program began.

“since then many factors have brought those emissions down, so there’s one thought that should the allowance budget be reduced to current emissions levels, basically to make the availability and demand more closely together of allowances.”

But tightening the cap on emissions is precisely what many Republican legislators don’t want.

They say that RGGI has already increased electricity prices.

House Majority Leader D-J Bettencourt says the low cost of allowances shows the program is a failure.

“the question that immediately pops out to a reader’s mind is, isn’t the drop in the allowances prices, which remain at the floor price, and have been there for the past year and half, indicative of the fact that the market forces have decided that RGGI is not working.”

Supporters say the 30-cent a month cost increase is lower than predicted when the program was developed.