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N.Y. governor unveils adoption of regulations to cut RGGI cap by 30 percent

December 2, 2020

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
December 2, 2020

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Dec. 1 announced the adoption of new regulations to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The regulations, which have been adopted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), advance New York’s portion of the 30 percent regional cap reduction from 2021 to 2030, ensuring that regional emissions are 65 percent below the starting cap level by 2030, and will align New York’s cap with the other participating RGGI states.

The emissions reductions support Cuomo’s requirements under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050, Cuomo’s office noted.

With this update, the regional cap in 2030 will be 65 percent below the 2009 starting level. In addition, New York is going beyond many of its RGGI partner states by adding smaller peaking units to the program, “recognizing that most of these smaller sources are located in proximity to New York’s Environmental Justice communities, communities of color and low-income communities that disproportionately bear an undue, unjust and historic burden of air pollution,” Cuomo’s office said in a news release.

Revisions to NYSERDA’s regulations will also ensure that the investment of proceeds from allowance auctions provide equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities, in accordance with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.

The New York Power Authority recently said that it will explore transitioning its natural gas-fired peaking power plants in New York City and Long Island to clean energy technologies, such as battery storage and low to zero carbon emission resources and technologies, under an agreement with a coalition of environmental justice groups. In an agreement with the PEAK Coalition, a coalition of advocacy groups, NYPA agreed to hire a consultant to explore cleaner options for its fleet of city-wide, peaking power plants, which total 461 megawatts.

Cuomo’s office said that another key change to the RGGI program is the creation of the Emissions Containment Reserve. This is a new feature designed to ensure additional carbon dioxide emissions reductions by auctioning fewer allowances in the event the cost of such reductions is less than anticipated. The regulations also simplify the program and ensure that reductions from power plants continue by removing all offset categories except for emissions from livestock operations.   

RGGI is the first mandatory market-based program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont to cap and reduce carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector.

The DEC’s proposed RGGI regulation was published in the State Register in late April and the public comment period closed on June 29, 2020.

NYSERDA’s proposed regulations were published in the State Register on May 13 and the public comment period closed on July 13.

The DEC’s final regulation will be published in the State Register on Dec. 16 and will be effective on Dec. 31, 2020. The DEC’s final regulations and supporting materials are available here

NYSERDA’s regulations were approved at a special board meeting on Dec. 1 and will be published in the State Register on Dec. 30.

NYSERDA’s final regulations and supporting materials are available here.

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