RGGI is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, created by a group of ten northeastern states. RGGI runs a carbon trading scheme with the primary goal to reduce CO₂ emissions. Permits are auctioned off quarterly, September’s auction only sold 75% of the permits available, and December’s sold only 57%. The sale price has a $1.86 per ton floor, and that’s what they sold at.
The money raised goes to the state governments as a function of their population size. The intent is that money then goes to various projects ranging from improving insulation on homes to heat exchangers at a paper mill, to an organization that helped create RGGI and then got grants from it.
The “poor” auction performance in the last two auctions is due in part to the recession and also to increased natural gas supplies. There is work afoot to bring in another Hydro-Quebec DC power line that will carry as much power as a large power plant, and proceeds from future auctions are expected to remain low.
The recession brings a secondary hit on energy efficiency spending. Three states, New Hampshire, New York, and New Jersey, have tapped RGGI funds for unrelated expenses such as school aid and general fund assistance. Not surprisingly, critics point to this as more evidence that RGGI is just another tax and not a program to benefit rate payers. Even without the diversion RGGI is an energy tax. The New Hampshire fuel tax is written into the state constitution as being for highway maintenance. The State Highway Patrol have managed to be considered maintenance, but that’s as far astray as the fuel tax goes.
Like most states, New Hampshire has had a sizable turnover in the state legislature, and there is a move afoot to withdraw. A story in the Dec 26 Manchester Union Leader (on paper or subscription only) reports on the effort to find supporters before writing the bill. Some supporters say there’s enough support to make passage likely.
There’s no conclusion to this post, this effort is currently a work in progress and I may write a few updates before I can write a conclusion.
Other sources of information for this post not linked above: