Update on RGGI in PA with 2nd Quarter Report

On April 23, 2022, Pennsylvania became the 12th state to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”). However, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court has since issued an injunction against further implementation of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). While Pennsylvania drifts between political and judicial dithering on participation in RGGI, we get the latest report.

Judge Wojcik
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Pennsylvania’s climate rule is on hold until a full legal case can be heard. Commonwealth Court Judge Michael Wojcik on Friday granted a request for preliminary injunction against enforcement of the regulation that joins the state to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The order says the parties requesting the stay, which include coal industry groups, power plant owners, and some labor groups, stand to lose out if the rule is enforced now and later thrown out.

Pennsylvania’s climate rule paused until trial this fall | by Rachel McDevitt | StateImpact Pennsylvania | July 8, 2022

“Open interest in RGGI futures and options increased from 79 million allowances at the end of the previous quarter to 113 million allowances by the close of the second quarter of 2022. Continuing the trend seen in March, in the early part of April most transactions settled between $12.60 and $13.50. For the rest of April, prices rose near $14, then fell to about $13.70 in May, but ultimately rose again to about $13.80 in June, closer to the Cost Containment Reserve (“CCR”) Trigger Price for 2022 of $13.91.”

RGGI Report on 2nd Quarter of 2022 – August 2022

Elowyn Corby: RGGI can be a big boost for our state

August 3, 2022 – Pennsylvania recently joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”), which will produce more than 30,000 jobs, cut carbon pollution, and create funding for major reinvestments in communities across the state.

Now, some lawmakers are trying to use the courts to stop us from joining RGGI – and if they succeed, our state will miss out on the environmental and economic benefits that come with it. The courts should quickly reject those efforts, and once they do we need lawmakers to listen to their constituents on how we should invest RGGI funds. A recent statewide poll by Embold Research and Vote Solar showed that the two most popular uses for RGGI funding were advancing affordable clean energy in low-income communities and supporting health and wellbeing services for communities most impacted by pollution.

This makes perfect sense. Pennsylvanians care about fairness, so we want the proceeds from the program to protect all Pennsylvanians, especially low-income families, communities of color, and other vulnerable populations who have been disproportionately harmed by climate change and pollution now and in the past.

As RGGI progresses, we need to make sure emissions don’t shift to communities already highly affected by pollution, and we need to act quickly to address unintended consequences if they arise. RGGI can be a big boost for our state. Let’s listen to Pennsylvanians and make sure it benefits all of us.

Elowyn Corby, Mid-Atlantic Regional Director at Vote Solar, Philadelphia, Pa. Source

UPDATE:
September 2, 2022 – The state Supreme Court says Pennsylvania can’t enforce a rule meant to limit power plant emissions while a legal challenge plays out. The high court on Wednesday denied the Department of Environmental Protection’s motion that would let the state participate in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on an emergency basis while DEP defends the rule. Arguments in Commonwealth Court are set for Sept. 14 and Nov. 14 in two separate cases. Pennsylvania is the country’s fourth-largest carbon dioxide emitter and scientists say global carbon emissions must be cut rapidly to have the greatest chance of avoiding catastrophic warming.

Pennsylvania will miss September RGGI auction as court battle continues by Rachel McDevitt | StateImpact Pennsylvania
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI or 'Reggie')

Sharon Pillar: Time for Pa.’s energy freedom

August 1, 2022 – The Public Utility Commission (PUC) warned customers in May that all of the state’s electric utilities intended to significantly raise their prices on June 1, ranging from 6% to 45%. The PUC said this is because “higher wholesale market prices for electricity, fueled in large part by shifts in supply and demand for natural gas, have increased purchasing costs for electric distribution companies and thus driven up many (Prices to Compare).”

Simply stated, this unbelievable price hike is largely due to our state’s failure to diversify our energy mix. Natural gas is dominating Pennsylvania’s electricity generation at more than 50%, and it is predicted to grow to 70% by 2030 as it hedges out coal and nuclear plants. Because of geopolitical issues disrupting global supply networks, Europe is turning to the US and other countries to provide natural gas, causing the price of natural gas to skyrocket — and in turn, so has the price of the electricity that it fuels.

Dependence on any one kind of energy is a precarious situation, particularly when those resources are subject to worldwide markets that are influenced by actions of unstable nations. To keep prices down, Pennsylvania needs to diversify its energy mix.

We can only find true energy freedom by expanding solar energy, as well as other renewables like wind and low-impact hydro, combined with battery storage, microgrids and grid stabilization technology, to generate a greater portion of our electricity, and by reducing overall demand with energy efficiency measures.

Currently, renewable energy sources comprise less than 4% of Pennsylvania’s energy mix with solar at only 0.5% — that’s right, only half of 1%. Increasing renewables will bring diversity to the market and help protect ratepayers from the price spikes that just went into effect.

And once we get to 5% solar on the grid, there is benefit to all consumers as the cost of electricity starts to decline – even for those that don’t have solar on their rooftops. Once we get to 10% solar, rate payers will start to save $619 million annually. This is because solar is most productive when energy demand is at its highest. This is the same time of day when we historically need to call up dirty and very expensive peaker plants to meet the extra demand of hot summer and cold winter months. Solar (as well as storage) can actually displace the need to run peaker plants and bring down the cost of wholesale electricity.

The Pennsylvania Solar Center has also seen firsthand how solar has directly reduced and even eliminated energy bills for countless organizations across the state. Farms, businesses, schools, local governments, faith communities and homeowners — more than 30,000 solar owners in the state to date — are taking the power of solar energy into their own hands. They are becoming energy independent.

So, it was extremely disappointing that the General Assembly left Harrisburg for the summer without passing one clean energy bill. No increase to our weak renewable goals that were originally set in 2004. No passage of community solar that would allow renters or those who don’t have good sun on their properties to subscribe to a portion of a solar system, get credit on their utility bills, and lock in a low energy price for years.

Increasing our solar and clean energy goals would also be massive job creators, spawning tens of thousands of jobs across the supply chain and bringing billions of private investment into the state. We ask then — why has Harrisburg not taken action? Maybe they haven’t heard from you yet.

We implore our legislators to recognize the devastating impact of high energy bills, especially on small businesses and those on low or fixed incomes who can’t afford a 40-plus percent increase. We hope that they will provide relief for these customers in the short-term as well as expand clean energy to create stability for the longer term, and for everyone.

If you don’t want a monopoly on energy, tell your legislators that it’s time to diversify our electricity with more renewable energy and battery storage.

Sharon Pillar is executive director of the Pennsylvania Solar Center, a nonprofit effort based in Pittsburgh dedicated to bringing the benefits of solar energy to all Pennsylvanians. Source

“Market-based emissions reduction initiatives such as RGGI are designed to give firms efficient incentives to reduce or offset emissions. In the short-term, high-emitting generators will operate less frequently in favor of low-emitting generators. In the long-term, the market will affect the decisions of firms to develop offset projects, retire older inefficient generation, and perform maintenance that increases fuel efficiency and lowers carbon-intensity.”

RGGI Report on 2nd Quarter of 2022 – August 2022

MORE: August 3, 2022 – Pennsylvania Joins the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

April 25, 2022 – Pa. Power Plants Need to Start Paying for Emissions. Here’s the Benefits and Costs

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