The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) allows the State of New Hampshire to collect tariffs on companies that exceed the Carbon Dioxide (greenhouse gas) limit set by the initiative. Polluter’s pay and the monies collected go to the electric and gas utilities’ energy efficiency programs.
Derry resident and interim chair of EEAC (Energy & Environmental Advisory Committee) Maureen Reno, explains RGGI and sheds some light on what is happening with RGGI in New Hampshire.
For over five years now Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has demonstrated that a market based approach to limiting lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the electricity generating sector can make significant environmental progress while benefiting our economy. In fact, an independent report by the Analysis Group found that the investment of RGGI proceeds from the first three years puts $1.1 billion in electricity bill savings back into the pockets of consumers in the RGGI region and keeps $765 million in the local economy due to reduced fossil fuel demand.
In 2008, New Hampshire joined RGGI, to lower carbon dioxide CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning power plants. These emissions pollute our air and are a key component of the climate changes we have been witnessing lately. To accomplish this goal, RGGI allows electricity producers to purchase allowances to exceed agreed upon limits in a multi-state allowance market. Each state then uses the proceeds from the sale of allowances to invest in energy efficiency programs and offer customer rebates.
After its 2012 review, the RGGI states, including nine states in New England and the Northeast, are proposing to reduce the regional emissions limit to better reflect the current level of regional emissions. This proposal, HB 306 as amended, was approved by the NH House last week. Derry’s Representative Mary Till joined the majority vote, 190 to 156. The bill is now in the Senate.
Emissions since RGGI’s inception have decreased due to several factors. State investments in energy efficiency have reduced electricity demand and the need for new transmission and generation in the region, saving rate payers increased energy prices. Due to lower natural gas prices, electricity producers have invested in gas power plants (with much lower CO2 emissions) to supplant generation from coal in the region. The lower energy costs from using natural gas have opened the door to other energy suppliers to move into the New Hampshire market and compete head-to-head with PSNH.
According to the Department of Environmental Services, the proposed decrease in the emissions limits envisioned in HB 306 will lead to about a three percent reduction in typical residential electric bills. It also means that towns like Derry will see their energy bills decrease which in turn is good for taxpayers.
Thank you, Representative Till, for voting in favor of New Hampshire’s environment and economy.