Regional Cap-and-Trade Scheme Creates Economic Growth

A regional cap-and-trade program launched in the northeastern U.S. three years ago has saved customers nearly $1.1 billion on electricity bills, helped create 16,000 jobs, and has retained more than $765 million in local economies by reducing the demand for fossil fuels, according to a new analysis.

While the future of the so-called Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) remains in jeopardy — with New Jersey planning to drop out and other states also considering leaving — the study by the Boston-based Analysis Group finds that the project has had real benefits for the ten participating states.

The program requires major power plants to buy allowances at auction for each ton of carbon dioxide they emit. From mid-2008 to September, plant owners have spent about $912 million to buy those allowances, generating funds that were used to improve energy efficiency, train workers, and undertake local renewable energy projects.

“We tracked the dollars spent, and RGGI generates greater economic growth in every one of the 10 states that participate in RGGI than would occur without a carbon price,” said Susan Tierney, one of the authors of the study, which will be published in The Electricity Journal. RGGI’s participants include the six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

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