The nation’s first regional program to limit carbon pollution from power plants
By Catherine Corkery
By leading the nation in reducing climate disruption-causing carbon pollution, New Hampshire and the other Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states have already achieved public health benefits exceeding $10 billion, more than $2.9 billion in new economic value, and more than 30,000 new job-years of work throughout the region thanks to the program. Now, New Hampshire has an opportunity to build on RGGI’s track record of success by setting an example for the other RGGI states (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) to follow.
Currently, RGGI is determining the future of the program as they explore possible paths to reduce carbon pollution in the region through 2030. Critically, all of the states involved in RGGI–the Nation’s first regional program to limit carbon pollution from power plants–have already set ambitious economy-wide goals to reduce carbon pollution through 2030, and now they need the regional support to make those pledges a reality. This process is vital to the economic future of the region as it charts a course for carbon pollution reduction that inevitably power producers in all RGGI states must meet.
According to the Investment of RGGI Proceeds Through 2013, utility customers in New Hampshire received $9.7 million in direct bill assistance. The funds also helped to weatherized 444 income-eligible homes, completely with a heating system if theirs had failed, and upgraded 455 business and municipalities to highly efficient equipment. The projected lifetime energy savings of these upgrades is expected to be roughly $83 million.
But if we’re to continue this good work, we need to up the ante. Initial analysis by Synapse Energy Economics shows that the RGGI states must achieve at least a five percent reduction in carbon pollution from power plants annually from 2020 levels through to 2030 in order to meet their carbon reduction pledges. According to the Synapse report, achieving states’ 2030 goals in the most cost effective manner, including reducing power sector emissions by half between 2020 and 2030 would generate about $2 billion in energy savings for consumers in the region and create nearly 5,900 job-years throughout the state.
It is critical that New Hampshire and the RGGI states continue to advocate for a future program structure that will help them meet their state climate goals, reducing pollution from power plants at least five percent annually from 2020 levels through 2030.
In so doing, RGGI will give its participating states the necessary tools to make deeper investments in clean energy, energy efficiency and other critical programs while rolling back carbon pollution. Additionally, a strong commitment to carbon pollution reduction gives clean energy developers the market certainty they need to continue moving forward with large renewable energy projects in the region.
New Hampshire and the RGGI region have the opportunity to set the gold standard for the nation in the struggle to turn back the clock on climate pollution.
Catherine Corkery is the Chapter Director of the New Hampshire Sierra Club.