RGGI’s 6th Auction: For 2012, Supply Outnumbers Demand

The states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) announced the results of their 6th quarterly auction, held on December 2nd, which brought in the lowest prices for carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances yet. Wednesday’s auction also marks the first time that RGGI allowances offered for sale outnumbered demand. Only 1.6 million of the roughly 2.1 million allowances for the 2012 vintage sold at RGGI’s required price floor of $1.86. Depending on each state’s regulations, these unsold allowances may be sold in future auctions, or a state may choose to retire them. Although retirement this early in the game is a somewhat remote possibility, it will be interesting to see whether this will have an impact in RGGI’s second compliance period, 2012-2015.

Prices for the nearly 28.6 million 2009 vintage allowances sold fell from the September auction’s clearing price of $2.19 to $2.05, down significantly from June’s clearing price of $3.23. Despite these low prices, the number of participants in the 2009 vintage auction actually increased significantly: 62 entities, compared to 46 who participated in September’s auction.

In the 2012 vintage offering, however, the quantity of allowances for which bids were submitted decreased 32% from September, resulting in bids for only 74% of the supply of 2012 allowances offered for sale. As in September’s auction, no non-compliance entities (businesses or persons not regulated under RGGI) participated in the 2012 vintage auction. In comparison, non-compliance entities submitted 38% of the bids for 2012 allowances in the 4th RGGI auction, back in June.

The range of bid prices in the 6th auction, not surprisingly, was also the lowest that RGGI, Inc. has reported. Bid prices for the 2009 vintage allowances ranged from the minimum clearing price of $1.86 to just $5.00, down from a high of $12.00 in the June and September auctions, while bid prices for the 2012 vintage allowances topped out at $2.41, down significantly from March’s high bid price of $4.40.

As we said after prices fell in September’s auctions, the national (and international) efforts toward developing carbon regulation that would preempt RGGI are likely having an impact on bidders’ perceptions of RGGI’s future. Combined with additional reports that the RGGI allowance pool is over-funded, these low prices are not too surprising, and will likely continue.

Nonetheless, RGGI is still bringing in a lot of money. The report highlights that the RGGI program has brought in more than $494.4 million over the last 15 months of auctions for investment in a state-specific programs that are targeted to reducing emissions, building the clean energy economy, and saving consumers money. If you’re interested in where the funds are going in your state, check out RGGI’s convenient summary.

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