RGGI’s 7th Auction Brings Total Proceeds to Over a Half Billion Dollars for RGGI States’ Projects

Despite the relatively low clearing prices in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s (RGGI) seventh auction of CO2 credits on March 10th — $2.07 for 2009-2011 allowances, and the auction floor price of $1.86 for 2012-2014 allowances – cumulative RGGI proceeds to be used by the 10 participating states for renewable energy, energy efficiency and low-income energy assistance programs now total $582.3 million.

As reported in today’s announcement of the auction results, this half billion dollars is being funneled into state-run programs that make investments in energy efficiency, accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, and, at the bottom line, create thousands of jobs. In the report, RGGI highlights success stories from regional companies in sectors such as energy audits and weatherization, and the US Department of Energy’s statistic that every million dollars invested in building weatherization creates more than 50 jobs in installation and another 10 to 20 jobs in the production of energy efficient building materials.  Also notable for Massachusetts is DOER Commissioner Phil Guidice’s statement that energy efficiency programs funded in part by RGGI are expected to create or maintain nearly 4,000 jobs in Massachusetts in the coming three years.

This auction was RGGI’s first in 2010, and the first to offer new years’ allowances for sale. Participation increased in both auctions, perhaps as a result of the green shoots of the new economic recovery.

Participation in the auction of 2010 vintage allowances, which may be used to cover CO2 emissions from power plants in the first compliance period of 2009-2011, was robust, with 51 entities submitting bids to purchase 2.3 times the available supply of 40.6 million allowances. The clearing price of $2.07 is up from December’s low of $2.05, even though this auction offered 40.6 million allowances for sale, a significant increase from the prior two auctions offerings of roughly 28.5 million each. Eighty-five percent of the 2010 vintage allowances were purchased by entities regulated under RGGI or their affiliates.

Participation also increased in the auction of allowances to be used in RGGI’s second control period (2012-2014). Although Wednesday’s auction marked the second time that supply outpaced demand for these allowances, the quantity of allowances for which bids were submitted increased 31% from December’s Auction 6 of 2012 vintage allowances. Ninety-eight percent of the 2.1 million 2013 vintage allowances offered for sale sold to nine generators regulated under RGGI at the $1.86 mandated auction floor price. As with the unsold allowances from December, the additional allowances may be sold at future auctions, or a state may choose to retire them.

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