DEC, NYSERDA regulations strengthen regional program, further reduce emissions from electricity sector
Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently announced the adoption of new regulations to strengthen the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, known as "RGGI," the nation's first regional program to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector. The regulations, which have been adopted by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, advance New York's portion of the 30% regional cap reduction from 2021 to 2030, ensuring regional emissions are 65% below the starting cap level by 2030, and will align New York's cap with the other participating RGGI states. These emissions reductions support Cuomo's nation-leading requirements under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85% by 2050, and fulfill the governor's January 2017 State of the State challenge to the RGGI states to further strengthen the program, which yields environmental, health and economic benefits.
"The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative not only set the standard for climate leadership during the last decade, but also set the stage for New York's landmark Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act," Cuomo said. "Reducing the RGGI cap will lower greenhouse gas emissions even further, all while providing valuable resources to expand our clean energy economy. New York has been at the forefront of the fight against climate change and we will continue help push the nation forward towards a cleaner future."
With this update, the regional cap in 2030 will be 65% 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 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. Revisions to NYSERDA's regulations will also ensure the investment of proceeds from allowance auctions provide equitable benefits to disadvantaged communities, in accordance with the CLCPA.
Another key change to the RGGI program is the creation of the emissions containment reserve (ECR.) 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 reductions from power plants continue by removing all offset categories except for emissions from livestock operations.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "The first-of-its-kind, lead-by-example RGGI program is a textbook example of how we can tackle the climate crisis while boosting our economy. During the last few years, Gov. Cuomo has shown the nation the climate leadership we need by further reducing emissions under this program and advancing the nation's most ambitious climate law."
NYSERDA Acting President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "These regulations not only strengthen New York's ongoing commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions, but they go one step further to ensure that disadvantaged communities will also benefit – which is a priority of Gov. Cuomo and is in accordance with the Climate Act. As we continue to move forward with the state's nation-leading clean energy transition, it's imperative that we continue to implement regulations and policies that are in the best interests of all New Yorkers."
DEC's proposed RGGI regulation (part 242) was published in the state register on April 29, and the public comment period closed June 29. NYSERDA's proposed regulations were published in the state register on May 13, and the public comment period closed July 13. DEC's final regulation will be published in the state register on Dec. 16 and will be effective on Dec. 31. DEC's final regulations and supporting materials are currently 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 currently available here.
Signed into law in 2019, Cuomo's climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York state builds back better as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. The CLCPA places New York on a path to reach its mandated goals of economywide carbon neutrality and achieving a zero-emissions electricity sector by 2040, faster than any other state. The initiative builds on New York's ramp-up of clean energy, including a $3.9-billion investment in 67 large-scale renewable projects across the state, the creation of more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector, a commitment to develop over 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, and 1,800% growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011. New York's Climate Action Council is working on a scoping plan to build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85% from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring at least 40% of the benefits of clean energy investments benefit disadvantaged communities, and advancing progress toward the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 TBtus.
For more information about the CLCPA and the Climate Action Council, visit www.climate.ny.gov.
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative 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 CO2 emissions from the power sector. For more information, visit https://www.rggi.org/.