The New Hampshire House last week approved, by a veto-proof vote of 246-104, legislation that would withdraw the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a cap-and-trade program established in the Northeast. The bill is now headed to the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch (D), a supporter of RGGI, has spoken out against the bill, dismissing claims that lawmakers adopted the program even though it was based on what detractors say is unproven science about greenhouse gases. The bill essentially repeals a law under which the state joined the regional GHG emissions trading program for power plants. Ten northeastern states are participants in the RGGI. Lynch has said that repealing the law would cost ratepayers up to $6 million a year. The state could also forfeit $12 million a year in funding, he claims.
“According to an independent economic assessment of the program conducted by the University of New Hampshire, the cumulative impact of RGGI through the end of 2010 has been a cost of $11.7 million, and a benefit of $28.2 million in allowance revenue,” he said in a recent statement.
Under the bill, utilities cannot recover costs from ratepayers for buying allowances to cover future emissions. Lawmakers have pointed out that utilities could sell allowances on the carbon market, however.
RGGI on Monday released a report that claims the program has resulted in a series of economic benefits for a select group of states. According to the organization (which commissioned the report), states invested 80% of the $789.2 million generated from the auctions in energy programs. Those investments resulted in significant overall returns: For every $1 invested, the states saw $3 to $4 in returns.
Sources: POWERnews, New Hampshire Governor, RGGI