The Regional Greenhouse Gas Inititiave (RGGI) has proposed a new model rule for the nine northestern states that participate in the program to substantially reduce the greenhouse gas emissions in these states. The proposed rule includes the following:
• A reduction of the 2014 regional CO2 budget, “RGGI cap”, from 165 million to 91 million tons – a reduction of 45 percent. The cap would decline 2.5 percent each year from 2015 to 2020.
• Additional adjustments to the RGGI cap from 2014-2020. This will account for the private bank of allowances held by market participants before the new cap is implemented in 2014. From 2014-2020 compliance with the applicable cap will be achieved by use of “new” auctioned allowances and “old” allowances from the private bank.
• Cost containment reserve (CCR) of allowances that creates a fixed additional supply of allowances that are only available for sale if CO2 allowance prices exceed certain price levels ($4 in 2014, $6 in 2015, $8 in 2016, and $10 in 2017, rising by 2.5 percent, to account for inflation, each year thereafter.)
• Updates to the RGGI offsets program, including a new forestry protocol.
• Not reoffering unsold 2012 and 2013 CO2 allowances.
• Requiring regulated entities to acquire and hold allowances equal to at least 50 percent of their emissions in each of the first 2 years of the 3 year compliance period, in addition to demonstrating full compliance at the end of each 3 year compliance period.
• Commitment to identifying and evaluating potential tracking tools for emissions associated with electricity imported into the RGGI region, leading to a workable, practicable, and legal mechanism to address such emissions.
This new approach if adopted by the RGGI states would increase the price of allowances dramatically. The prices for RGGI allowances has been around $1 to $2 per short ton of CO2.