U.S. States & Regions
States and regions across the country are adopting climate policies, including the development of regional greenhouse gas reduction markets, the creation of state and local climate action and adaptation plans, and increasing renewable energy generation. Read More
In 2012, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) will look to build upon the success of its first three-year compliance period and make key improvements as it enters a second three-year compliance period. In an effort to strengthen the existing initiative design and achieve desired emission reductions, RGGI states are retiring allowances not sold in the first phase, increasing the reserve price of allowances, conducting a comprehensive review, and considering a reduction to the number of available allowances to ensure further emission cuts. RGGI’s goal is to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in member states by 10 percent by 2018 through a cap-and-trade program.
On January 17, 2012, RGGI member states announced several actions to reduce the number of available emission allowances. First, auctions in 2012 will only offer allowances for 2012 and none from the next compliance period (2015 to 2017). Second, at least five states (Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont) agreed to retire unsold allowances from the first compliance period, which could otherwise have been used in later compliance periods. With fewer total allowances available for auction, cumulative emissions will be forced downward. Many states have faced an oversupply of allowances as emissions from power plants are approximately 30 percent less than the cap, owing in part to the economic recession and investment in natural gas and renewable electricity generation (Regional Cap-and-Trade Effort Seeks Greater Impact by Cutting Carbon Allowances).
Beyond withholding future compliance period allowances and retiring unsold allowances, RGGI may also consider additional measures to increase the market pressure on electricity generators to reduce carbon emissions. In 2012, the reserve price for allowances will rise from $1.89 to $1.93 (RGGI CO2 Allowance Auctions - Frequently Asked Questions). Tightening annual emission caps may be an additional option identified by RGGI’s first mandated program review, which will be completed in summer 2012.
The economic benefits from RGGI’s first compliance period were significant. An Analysis Group report released in November 2011 estimated that RGGI produced $1.6 billion in economic value for its member states between 2009 and 2011. The proceeds from sales of RGGI allowances have funded energy efficiency improvement programs, community-based renewable energy projects, assistance to low-income customers, education and job training programs, and state general budget funds.
The White House Jobs Council recently released its year-end report outlining a plan to strengthen the United States’ economic future. While the tax and regulatory reform proposals are bound to cause disagreements, the Council developed pragmatic recommendations regarding energy’s role in improving the economy. The report recognizes the state of politics and low-carbon energy deployment, while highlighting the economic opportunities—including energy savings, leading emerging technology markets, and enhanced energy security—made possible by transitioning to a low-carbon economy. The Council’s energy recommendations include:
On January 18, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a proposed rule, known as Part 251, which would limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from new electric generating facilities over 25 megawatts and at existing facilities that undergo expansions of at least 25 megawatts. The threshold for expanded power plants is designed to allow coal plants to pursue efficiency improvements without triggering the emissions limit. The proposed rule would not affect electricity imports. If this rule is adopted, New York would become one of a few leading states with a specific GHG emission standard for individual power plants.
Specifically, the proposed regulation:
- Includes both input-based and output-based standards, which each facility owner or operator may choose between;
- Sets a CO2 emission limit of 925 pounds per megawatt-hour (lbs/MWh) (output-based) or 120 pounds per million BTU (lbs/MMBTU) (input-based) for most new or expanded baseload plants. This limit is based on the expected emissions from a well-operated and well-maintained natural gas combined cycle combustion turbine with some oil use as a backup;
- Sets a limit of 1450 lbs/MWh (output-based) or 160 lbs/MMBTU (input-based) for simple cycle combustion turbines – these types of plants are built to be cycled on and off more quickly, but have higher emissions. This limit is based on the expected emissions of a well-operated and well-maintained simple cycle combustion turbine which fires either natural gas or distillate oil;
- Includes recordkeeping, monitoring and reporting requirements.
In addition to these standardized requirements, the DEC will set case-specific CO2 emission limits for non-fossil fuel power plants, defined as any plant with a fuel mix of less than 70% fossil fuel.
The proposed rule is open to public comment through March 15, 2012, and there will be public hearings in early March. The rule is authorized by the Power NY Act of August 4, 2011, which requires a final rule by August 4, 2012, and will help New York achieve its goal of an 80% greenhouse gas emission reduction between 1990 and 2050.
Electricity generation is responsible for 19 percent of greenhouse gases emitted in New York, and New York emits 0.9 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. In 2008, the state emitted 47 million tons of CO2 , but in 2010 this amount fell to 42 million tons. Further emissions reductions are expected through New York’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will reduce regional emissions by 10 percent by 2018.
Promulgation of the proposed rule would make New York the first state in the Northeast to set power plant CO2 emission standards and place it among states with similar rules such as California, Washington, Montana, and Oregon.
A joint report from The Brookings Institution and The Rockefeller Foundation examines how more than 20 states are investing $500 million per year from clean energy funds (CEFs). The report, Leveraging State Clean Energy Funds for Economic Development, details how CEFs are becoming key mechanisms for states to support their clean energy economies. CEFs are increasingly important in a time of federal energy policy uncertainty and the possible expiration of federal tax incentives, subsidies, and loan guarantees contained in the 2009 stimulus and other programs. While CEFs have successfully financed significant clean energy projects, the report notes that CEFs can play a more robust role in the development of nationwide clean energy industries.
According to the report, over the last decade, state CEFs invested $2.7 billion and leveraged an additional $9.7 billion from federal and private sector sources. The combined $12 billion supported over 72,000 clean energy projects, ranging in size from commercial power projects to residential solar installations. CEF-supported finance mechanisms for installing clean energy technologies include rebates, grants, loans, and performance-based incentives. CEFs also enabled increased investment in energy efficiency programs by almost $3 billion over five years, almost half of which funded consumer investment subsidies. These investments played critical roles in deploying clean technologies, overcoming upfront capital shortages, and creating thousands of green jobs.
CEFs raise revenue through a variety of mechanisms, including ratepayer electricity bill surcharges, renewable portfolio standard (RPS) compliance payments, sales of regional carbon allowances (Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative states), pollution charges on utilities, bonds, and taxes on fossil fuels.
The report emphasizes that despite the success of CEFs in promoting clean energy action, states should focus on reorienting CEFs toward long-term economic development goals. Increasing innovation through greater research and development spending is needed, as well as financial support for early-stage clean energy companies and technologies. States should also improve communication and pool their resources when working on shared objectives. In particular, states can increase the efficacy of CEFs if they:
- “Reorient a significant portion of their funding toward clean energy-related economic development
- Develop detailed state-specific clean energy market data
- Link clean energy funds with economic development entities and other stakeholders in the emerging industry
- Collaborate with other state, regional, and federal efforts to best leverage public and private dollars and learn from each other's experiences.” (Brookings Press Release)
Overall, the hope is that the early success of CEFs can be the basis for more effective public support for the clean energy industry.
Learn about the Climate Leadership Conference, Australia's new carbon pricing mechanism, the Make an Impact energy conservation challenge, and more in C2ES's January 2012 newsletter.
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
January 24, 2012
We share President Obama’s enthusiasm for homegrown solutions to America’s energy challenges. Without question, America has the resources and know-how to produce more energy at home, strengthening both our economy and our national security. But protecting the climate also has to be part of the equation. If we sensitively develop domestic reserves, get serious about ramping up new energy sources, and push efficiency across the board, we can both meet America’s energy needs and dramatically shrink our carbon footprint.
Even if comprehensive legislation remains off the table for now, we can make important progress tackling these challenges piece by piece. C2ES is working with policymakers and stakeholders on ways to expand enhanced oil recovery using captured carbon dioxide – an approach that can boost domestic oil production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Similarly, we’re working with automakers, environmentalists and others on a plan for integrating plug-in electric vehicles into the U.S. electrical grid. We look forward to sharing the results of these and other C2ES initiatives aimed at practical solutions to our twin climate and energy challenges.
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146
Read the full transcript of the 2012 State of the Union Address
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) was named the world’s top environmental think tank in a global survey of top public policy research institutes.
The University of Pennsylvania’s 2011 Global Go-To Think Tank Rankings are based on a survey of more than 1,500 policymakers, scholars, journalists, think-tank executives and others worldwide. The survey assessed more than 5,300 organizations nominated in 30 categories to create a global list of top think tanks by region and policy area.
C2ES’s predecessor organization, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, was named the world’s top environmental think tank in the same survey in 2009. The center began operating as C2ES in November 2011, and is listed in the new survey under its former name.
“While our name has changed, we remain as committed as ever to fact-based analysis and common-sense solutions to our climate and energy challenges,” said C2ES President Eileen Claussen. “We are thrilled to again be recognized as the world’s top environmental think tank. I’d like to commend the C2ES staff and thank all of our partners and supporters in the United States and abroad for helping to make this possible.”
The independent, nonpartisan center provides impartial information and analysis on energy and climate challenges; convenes policymakers and stakeholders to work toward consensus solutions; works with members of its Business Environmental Leadership Council and others to promote on-the-ground action; and promotes pragmatic, effective climate and energy policies at the state, national and international levels.
The annual survey, first published in 2007, is directed by James G. McGann, assistant director of the University of Pennsylvania’s International Relations Program and director of the Think Tanks and Civil Society Program.
The World Resources Institute and Chatham House ranked second and third, respectively, among the study’s top 30 environmental groups. Brookings Institution was named the top overall think tank. Additional categories in which the report ranks organizations include health policy, international development, and security and international affairs, among others.
The complete study, released in January 2012, is available online here.
More about C2ES's work to advance climate and energy solutions can be found here.
Yesterday, EPA announced the public release of reported greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large facilities across the country. Under legislation signed by President George W. Bush, most large sources of GHG emissions, including refineries, power plants, chemical plants, car manufacturers, and factories emitting more than 25,000 tons of CO2 equivalent a year, have been reporting their annual emissions electronically to EPA since 2010, while small sources are specifically exempted from the rule. Now, in accordance with the law, EPA is making that data public.
Some similar information was public already. Power plants have been required to report their CO2 emissions since the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, while many other companies have voluntarily reported their emissions through programs like the Carbon Disclosure Project
On December 22, 2011, the Maryland Public Service Commission (Order No. 84569) ordered the expansion of utilities’ energy efficiency and demand response programs for the second phase (2012-2014) of the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008. The EmPOWER Maryland Act targets a 15 percent reduction in the state’s per capita electricity consumption and a 15 percent reduction in peak electricity by 2015 (using a 2007 baseline). Utilities are responsible for achieving two-thirds of the reduction targets, and each utility has been required to file an energy savings and demand reduction plan. To date, “EmPOWER Maryland” programs have created 800,000 MWh in annual electricity savings, saved $100 million in annual energy costs, and provided electricity bill rebates to over 250,000 Maryland residents and businesses looking to increase energy efficiency.
Under EmPOWER Maryland, Maryland’s five major utilities are responsible for developing and implementing energy efficiency and demand response programs, which have included electricity bill rebates for energy efficiency investments, energy audits, and energy efficiency services. While the Maryland Public Service Commission expressed concern that utilities’ programs will not meet 2015 goals, installation and participant levels have increased in recent quarters. The Public Service Commission also approved measures to expand existing programs through increased rebates for energy efficiency equipment for residences and businesses, increased rebates for residential energy makeovers, and statewide administration of limited income energy efficiency programs.
Malcolm Woolf, director of the Maryland Energy Administration, stated “we applaud the efforts of the utilities and the PSC in meeting the ambitious EmPOWER Maryland goals and we encourage all Marylanders to contact their utility today to make their home or business more energy efficient.” He also credited EmPOWER Maryland for lowering electricity prices and protecting electricity supply during the summer heat wave in 2011. Overall, the EmPOWER Maryland Act is considered one of the nation’s strongest programs to promote energy efficiency, and Maryland is one of the “top ten” states for energy efficiency according to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
Statement of Eileen Claussen
President, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
January 11, 2012
We’ve seen before that what you measure, you can manage. Two decades ago, when EPA published the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), the public, policymakers and business all got a better handle on toxic emissions across the U.S. and how to reduce them. We can expect similar results now that EPA is publishing greenhouse gas data from major emitters. Businesses shrinking their carbon footprints will have a metric credible with the public. Clean technology developers will know who and where their potential customers are. Policymakers will know better how to develop policies that reduce emissions while contributing to economic growth. Simply getting this data out is an important step in tackling climate change.
Click here for more on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule.
Click here for a related blog post.
Contact: Tom Steinfeldt, 703-516-4146