June 13, 2011 - RGGI carbon auction results

Monday, June 13, 2011

The latest carbon auction results from the RGGI program show a market in uncertainty.
The "Old Woolen Mill" on the Great Works River in North Berwick, Maine.

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first market-based greenhouse gas regulatory program in the United States.  RGGI represents a cooperative effort by Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.  These ten states agreed to cap and reduce their electrical energy sector's greenhouse gas emissions by 10% by 2018.

While each state's legislature implemented its own version of the compact, the overall structure is that carbon allowances are auctioned off to the power sector.  Proceeds from these auctions are invested in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies.  The program has been a success in creating jobs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, and funding high-yield energy efficiency projects at businesses.

RGGI just held its twelfth auction.  (You can read the market monitor's report, a 10-page PDF, here.)  Altogether, the auction raised $25.5 million.  Each participating state's energy programs get a share in those proceeds based on how the underlying carbon allowances were allocated; for Maine, the twelfth auction yielded just under $770,000.  Since 2007, Maine has received $26 million through the program, which has been invested in energy efficiency through the Efficiency Maine Trust.

Interestingly, only 30 percent of the current-period carbon allowances available in the auction actually changed hands.  This low demand for allowances is striking, particularly since the price was as low as it could be: the auction floor price of $1.89 per short ton of CO2.  This apparent oversupply has emerged as the RGGI market matured; in the initial auction, the bid demand was four times larger than the supply.  While supply first outpaced demand for the tenth auction, held in December 2010, the 30% figure represents a new low for auction demand.

RGGI's thirteenth auction is scheduled for September 7, 2011.

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