Saturday, July 2, 2011

NH Joins Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

June 11, 2008 by admin  
Filed under Energy & Environment

New Hampshire has joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) this week when Gov. Lynch approved the legislation given to him by the State House and State Senate. The Initiative is a cooperative effort to discuss the design of a regional cap-and-trade program covering carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. New Hampshire joins Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Jersey, New York, and Vermont and in the effort. The effort was spearheaded by New York Governor George E. Petaki in April of 2004. Maryland is set to join and Washington DC, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, the Eastern Canadian Provinces, and New Brunswick are observers in the project. A 10 percent emission reduction of the greenhouse gas is targeted for 2018.

The flexible, market-based “cap and trade” plan calls for an agreed-upon limit on how much carbon dioxide can be emitted from the power plants. If a plant emits less than it is allowed, the plant can sell its remaining carbon dioxide allowance off to a company that has not been able to reduce its emissions. The goal of the initiative is to create incentives for companies to invest in emission reduction technologies in order to gain a surplus of carbon dioxide allowances to trade. Some of the money from the sales will go towards funding energy efficiency programs like the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund in Connecticut. In 2009, companies will be able to sell surplus carbon dioxide allowances off at $6 per ton and eventually $12 per ton in 2015.

“Protecting our clean air and clean water is critical to safeguarding the health of New Hampshire citizens, to preserving our beautiful natural environment, and maintaining our state’s strong economy,” Gov. Lynch said about the RGGI. “New Hampshire is already a national leader in addressing climate change and air pollution from power plants. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative offers us a way to work with our neighboring states to reduce pollution even further.”

New Hampshire generates almost twice as much energy as the state consumes itself. Most of the additional electricity generated is sent down power lines to Massachusetts and Connecticut. However, since 1990 NH power consumption has grown at over 30 percent. Our statewide carbon dioxide emissions have more than doubled within that period. If power consumption continues to rise, NH may eventually need to import our electricity.

There is expected to be an initial increase in electric rates for New Hampshire residents, but proponents say that NH would have to pay higher rates if it hadn’t signed anyways since it’d be facing the market dominated by the RGGI-participating states.

Joel Harrington, director of government relations fore The Nature Conservancy in New Hampshire said, “This program will serve as a catalyst for additional regional and national action. We applaud Governor Lynch and House and Senate leaders for their efforts to once again position New Hampshire as a leader in developing policies to make our air cleaner.”

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