Now Available: Video of September’s PA IPL Philadelphia Chapter Program!

Cleaning Up Pennsylvania’s Electric Generation – Pushing RGGI Across the Finish Line!

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI – pronounced “Reggy”) is Governor Wolf’s effort to begin cleaning up the Commonwealth’s electricity generation. RGGI is a “cap and trade” mechanism for putting a price on CO2 emissions from power plants. States in New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions that have been part of RGGI for years have reduced their CO2 emissions significantly and have generated major revenue that has been invested in clean energy and other programs to address climate justice. In Pennsylvania RGGI has cleared several major hurdles toward implementation but still faces significant opposition.

At our September PA IPL Philadelphia Chapter program we had several participants who have been following RGGI since its introduction in Pennsylvania and are very familiar with its provisions and what remains to be done to ensure RGGI’s success:

  • Bill CozzensPA IPL Board member and climate activist with several organizations will be introducing the panelists, providing some background information on RGGI, and moderating the audience discussion and Q&A period
  • Nora Elmarzouky, a climate justice organizer working for POWER Interfaith. Nora is the staff person supporting POWER’s RGGI Advocacy team and its Public Utility Commission Working Group.
  • Liz Robinson, former Executive Director of the Energy Coordinating Agency Philadelphia, is currently serving as Executive Director of the Philadelphia Solar Energy Association. Liz is an active member of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Eco-Justice Collaborative: Quakers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware promoting clean energy and economic, racial, and social justice. Liz has been actively supporting RGGI since its introduction.

RGGI is a complex regulation with lots of components. During our meeting Liz and Nora unpacked some of the complexity and helped us understand the benefits and current status of RGGI in Pennsylvania and what we can do to help push RGGI across the finish line.

Topics covered include:

  • How RGGI works and what impact it is likely to have on electric generation and costs
  • Benefits: reduction of CO2
  • Benefits: Funds available for clean energy and investments in environmental justice communities. How should funds be allocated?
  • Current status of approval
  • Opposition to RGGI
  • Steps we can take to move RGGI forward

RGGI Passes in PA with 3 to 2 Vote!

Today the PA Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) voted to approve PA participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in a 3 to 2 vote. Now, PA can join neighboring states in cutting CO2, creating jobs, and helping communities in need of support.

The passage of the RGGI is significant because in Pennsylvania, a substantial energy-producing state, over 70% of voters in recent polling called for solutions to cut carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

The RGGI is an established multi-state cap-and-invest program that seeks to slash carbon emissions from the power sector while generating proceeds that can be invested in cleaner energy generation including solar, wind, and nuclear. The RGGI program proceeds have also buttressed energy efficiency efforts in participating states and according to ACEEE, every dollar invested in efficiency in low-income households through the Weatherization Assistance Program results in $2.53 in energy and non-energy benefits for a community. These are real benefits for Pennsylvanians in frontline communities that have long borne an inordinate pollution burden.

It is critical that we take action on climate change now and a program like RGGI is positioned to provide immediate benefits to both our environment and the economy. PA citizens are rightly concerned about what the future will look like for their children and families if we don’t meaningfully address planetary warming right now. Having Pennsylvania link to RGGI in early 2022 is very much in the public interest, which is why we are thrilled to announce an affirmative vote for this rulemaking from the commissioners today.

Public Comments to the Independent Regulatory Review Commission on the Department of Environmental Protection’s C02 Budget Trading Program/Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Rulemaking

September 1, 2021

Commissioners:

Thank you for allowing me to speak today. My name is David Heayn-Menendez and I am the executive director of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, a community of congregations, faith-based organizations and individuals of faith responding to climate change as an ethical and moral issue. We are the Pennsylvania affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light, a national organization, and as our mission suggests, we are concerned about the existential crisis we face as a result of climate change. The greenhouse gas pollution we are generating is unsustainable for our people and our planet and we are not outliers in this belief: In Pennsylvania alone, a substantial energy-producing state, over 70% of voters in recent polling called for solutions to cut carbon pollution from fossil fuel-fired power plants.

And here’s where the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative comes in. As you know, RGGI is an established multi-state cap-and-invest program that seeks to slash carbon emissions from the power sector while generating proceeds that can be invested in cleaner energy generation including solar, wind and nuclear. The RGGI program proceeds have also buttressed energy efficiency efforts in participating states and according to ACEEE, every dollar invested in efficiency in low-income households through the Weatherization Assistance Program results in $2.53 in energy and non-energy benefits for a community. These are real benefits for Pennsylvanians in frontline communities that have long borne an inordinate pollution burden.

It is critical that we take action on climate change now and a program like RGGI is positioned to provide immediate benefits to both our environment and the economy. I was one of hundreds of speakers who lent their voice last summer during public hearings on RGGI, hearings which affirmed the overwhelming support among Pennsylvanians for the commonwealth’s participation in the program. Our citizens are rightly concerned about what the future will look like for their children and families if we don’t meaningfully address planetary warming right now. Having Pennsylvania link to RGGI in early 2022 is very much in the public interest, which is why we urge an affirmative vote for this rulemaking from the commissioners today. I appreciate your time and consideration.

RECORDING AVAILABLE-Main Line IPL Monthly Chapter Meeting-February 2021

GET the recording of the RGGI program.

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The Main Line chapter of PA IPL meets each month on fourth Monday evenings, 7:00-8:30 via Zoom.  We email a link to people on the Tuesday prior — often with a bit of special program description.  We hope you will join us!

To make sure you get the links, reach out to conveners Courtenay Willcox and Chuck Marshall by emailing them at mainline@paipl.org — and be sure to add mainline@paipl.org to your contacts!

This month, we will be joined by PennEnvironment’s Executive Director, David Masur during the second half of our meeting for a presentation on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This portion is open to non-Mainline IPL members for this presentation.

With the likelihood that RGGI will be approved in Pennsylvania, David will address:
  • How RGGI will be implemented?
  • What its implementation will mean for utilities?
  • What its implementation will mean for the CO2 reduction?
  • What role can citizens and institutions play?
  • What do we need to watch for?
Only the programming portion will be open to non-Mainline IPL members who can register here: https://paipl.salsalabs.org/RGGIProgramwithDavid…/index.html
The program will be recorded and available at a later date.

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative: Public Testimonies

How RGGI and Pennsylvania’s Carbon Budget Program work to reduce carbon pollutants that contribute to climate change:

  • RGGI is a multi-state, market-driven program for CO2 emissions from the electric power sector, implemented by a bipartisan group of governors.  It stretches across 10 states from Maine to Maryland, with Virginia and Pennsylvania now getting on board.
  • Under RGGI, the participating states agree on a regional limit on the carbon pollution that power plants can emit. Each state creates its own program for implementing the agreement.
  • Large carbon-emitting power plants purchase allowances equal to their CO2 emissions and can buy, sell, or trade carbon allowances within the overall cap.

In other words, power plants must pay for the dirty carbon pollution they cause, so they have an incentive to lower their emissions. If power plants reduce their emissions below their allowance, they can bank those allowances for use in the future, or sell allowances to other power plants, which creates more incentive for power plants to invest in ways to reduce their carbon emissions further.

The purchase of the allowances generates funds – as high as $300 million in a year – that could be used to support energy efficiency and renewable energy to further reduce air pollution in the state, and to help low-income consumers as well as communities that are transitioning away from fossil fuels.

PA IPL members, faith leaders, and advocates of climate justice from across the state have already taken a stance and testified, written in our local papers, and signed petitions.

Read the public testimonies of PA IPL’s Executive Director and advocates of climate justice. As we receive more testimonies, we will continue adding them to our website. If you or anyone you know would like to submit their public testimony, please email us.