RGGI states implement 45% cut to power plant pollution cap
THE REGIONAL GREENHOUSE Gas Initiative states, including Rhode Island, have implemented regulations lowering the greenhouse gas pollution cap by 45 percent. Under the new rules, power plants in RGGI states that generate at least 25 megawatts of electricity will be allowed to emit a total of 91 million tons of carbon dioxide annually, compared with the cap of 165 million tons in 2013.
NEW YORK – The nine member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, including Rhode Island, have set the program’s greenhouse gas pollution cap for 2014 at 91 million tons, putting into effect emissions-cutting regulations first proposed last February.
The cap represents a 45 percent reduction from the 2013 level of 165 million tons, according to the RGGI, a cooperative regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that includes Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.
Under the new rules, power plants in RGGI states that generate at least 25 megawatts of electricity will be allowed to emit a total of 91 million short tons of carbon dioxide annually. The cap will decline 2.5 percent annually from 2015 to 2020 for an additional 17.5 percent cut to the cap.
Each power plant must bid for RGGI carbon dioxide allowances in auctions held by the group, in which one carbon dioxide allowance represents authorization to emit 1 short ton of carbon dioxide. Regulated power plants in RGGI states must hold carbon dioxide allowances equal to their emissions to be compliant with the regulation.
The first allowance auction under the new cap will be held March 5 and will offer for sale 18.6 million allowances. Each RGGI state receives a portion of the proceeds from the auction. To date, Rhode Island has received $25.4 million in proceeds from the 22 previous auctions held by RGGI.
“RGGI has once again proven that state leadership provides the laboratory for innovation,” said Kenneth Kimmell, commissioner of the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection and chairman of the RGGI Inc. board of directors. “RGGI is a cost-effective and flexible program that can serve as a national model for dramatically reducing carbon pollution for other states throughout the nation.”
RGGI projects that carbon dioxide pollution from power plants in the nine RGGI states will fall to half of 2005 levels by 2020.
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