New Report Details Significant Economic Benefits of Additional Carbon Reductions in RGGI States

Synapse Energy Economics Inc. and the Sierra Club, in partnership with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and Pace Energy and Climate Center, released a report today detailing the significant economic benefits of aligning the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) targets with the nine member states’ climate policies as part of this year’s Program Review. The report, entitled The RGGI Opportunity, details how investments in energy efficiency, electric vehicles, and renewable energy make an economy-wide 40 percent reduction in carbon pollution from 1990 levels by 2030 possible while yielding $5.2 billion in total energy savings and creating an average of nearly 50,000 new jobs in the region each year.

“Simply put, the more aligned with member states’ climate policies RGGI is, the better off consumers, workers, and businesses are,” said Mark Kresowik, Eastern Region Deputy Director, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. “With new investments in wind, solar, and energy efficiency, and increasingly powering our vehicles with that clean electricity, our region can continue to reduce pollution while employing tens of thousands of additional workers and ensuring that families and businesses across the region save billions of dollars in energy costs.”

For the past seven years the RGGI states have worked together to set and achieve carbon pollution reductions from power plants, while generating billions of dollars in savings for customers and thousands of new jobs for workers through energy efficiency and clean energy investment in communities throughout the region. This year the RGGI Board of Directors will take up the process of setting the next wave of carbon reduction goals through a quadrennial Program Review, with the next stakeholder meeting on February 2nd. Today’s Synapse report details how the outcome of their work will have a critical impact on the economic life of the region for the next 15 years.

“While the nine RGGI states’ emission cap under their regional agreement is very similar to—and even goes a little further in reducing emissions than—EPA’s Clean Power Plan requirements, RGGI’s current requirements are not enough to get Northeast states to their climate goals in 2030 and beyond,” said Elizabeth Stanton, Principal Economist at Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. “Deeper reductions are needed to achieve state climate targets.”

The report finds that the least cost path to a 40 percent reduction in climate-disrupting carbon pollution from 1990 levels, commensurate with the states’ climate policies, is possible through engaging multiple sectors of the economy in the effort. These cuts can be achieved by wider adoption of energy efficiency programs successfully implemented in the region and deploying greater levels of wind and solar projects. The transportation sector will play a key role as well as 10 million vehicles switch to electric power by 2030, dramatically reducing our dependence on oil.

“Cutting carbon pollution means increased opportunity for Americans to clean up their air and save money on their electric bills with wind power,” said Andrew Gohn, Eastern Region Director of the American Wind Energy Association. “Today’s report shows that, not only can the RGGI states effectively reign in carbon pollution, but doing so expands the market for homegrown manufacturing and creates more well-paying jobs with benefits in renewable electricity.”

But it’s the economic benefits outlined in the report that are the most startling. A 40 percent carbon pollution reduction by 2030 would generate nearly 50,000 jobs on average each year. These jobs come primarily in the renewable energy sector, with additional strong job growth through energy efficiency and upgrades to the regions electricity transmission system. These jobs will be created within the region meaning that rather than sending dollars elsewhere for coal, oil and gas, states will be investing in local communities and local businesses to sustain economic growth.

“RGGI can cement the Northeast as the nation’s clean energy leader by making a common sense commitment to reduce carbon pollution over the next 14 years,” said Kresowik. “With New York’s recent commitment to phase out all coal by 2020, Massachusetts’ forward thinking energy efficiency programs, and a wealth of ready talent willing to get to work building out wind and solar, it’s time to make the region’s renewable energy promise a reality.”