Tag Archives: RGGI

Challenging the Fact-Free Narrative on RGGI

The states still in the Regional Greenhous Gas Initiative. Lawsuits are pending to add Virginia and Pennsylvania.

By Steve Haner

The numerous falsehoods in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch story about the carbon tax so loved by Virginia Democrats start right with the headline.  It states that Virginia’s decision to withdraw from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative “is costing millions.”

The figure of $150 million per year is then mentioned, apparently simply quoting the Democratic legislators who held a news conference May 21 to pledge their continued fealty to the program. They had sought to order Virginia back into RGGI with a budget provision, which they then agreed to drop in the final compromise.

The $150 million amount they mentioned is blatantly false, far too small.  Were Virginia still part of the 11-state cap and trade compact, RGGI would be costing utility ratepayers as much as $350 million per year, based on the most recent carbon tax amount in the first 2024 RGGI allowance auction.

So, the decision to stay out is not “costing” money but will actually save utility ratepayers as much as $700 million over 2024 and 2025.  Dominion Energy Virginia was the largest Virginia buyer of RGGI carbon allowances under the regulatory regime, and it has been passing along those costs directly to customers on all its monthly bills.

This was the second time in days that the capital city newspaper gave Democrats access to its front page to complain about Governor Glenn Youngkin’s opposition to the carbon tax regulation, and to claim he broke the law in repealing it.  The May 18 story is just as fuzzy about who actually pays the carbon tax. Continue reading

Floyd Judge Ponders Order to Return RGGI Tax

The states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative tax compact before Virginia withdrew.

By Steve Haner

A circuit court judge in Floyd County may soon order Virginia to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and to reimpose the related carbon tax on Virginia’s electricity consumers.

Judge Kenneth “Mike” Fleenor Jr. ruled earlier this month that a suit seeking reinstatement of RGGI could continue and held a hearing on February 5 on the question of “immediate relief.”  The plaintiff, a group of energy efficiency and insulation contractors using the RGGI tax dollars for their programs, has claimed it will suffer immediate and irreparable harm unless Virginia returns to collecting a carbon tax on coal and natural gas used by utilities. Continue reading

Virginia’s Final (Maybe) RGGI Tax Grab: $97M

Virginia’s final (maybe) sale of allowances for power plant carbon emissions produced a record $97.4 million. The price for each permit to emit one ton of carbon dioxide, which is passed to customers, has about doubled in four years.

by Steve Haner

Virginia has participated in its final (for a while anyway) Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative auction and the proceeds on the carbon tax set a new record, with Virginia collecting more than $97 million in one swoop. The total carbon tax take for the state is just under $828 million in three years.

The clearing price on December 6 reached $14.88 per ton. It would have been higher but the demand for allowances was so high the RGGI organization released some of its “cost containment reserve” or CCR allowances to tamp down the price increase. The news release on the auction is here. A chart showing Virginia’s proceeds over the three years is attached.

Why the record price? Here’s a solid suggestion: Power producers fear another major winter stressing their systems and know full well that wind and solar are unpredictable and unreliable. They are stocking up on allowances to keep our lights on with fossil fuels.

Just four years ago when the Thomas Jefferson Institute of Public Policy produced this explainer on what RGGI was, the “carbon price” was $5.27 a ton and the prediction was Virginia would collect $150 million a year from electricity producers and eventually their customers. “There is no guarantee the price won’t rise,” we noted, and indeed a steadily rising price for carbon emissions is entirely the point of RGGI.

Pushed by Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) the Air Pollution Control Board voted earlier this year to rescind the state regulation that forces Virginia’s larger electric power plants to purchase allowances from RGGI for every ton of coal, natural gas or oil they burn. So far, efforts to reverse that decision in the courts have failed. Continue reading

Court Blocks Pennsylvania from Joining RGGI

The states currently in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative tax compact. Pennsylvania will remain conspicuously absent, and Virginia departs in two months.

by Steve Haner

A state court in Pennsylvania has ruled that the regulatory decision to enroll that state in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) exceeded the authority of state regulators. It ruled RGGI is a tax that could only be lawfully imposed by the legislature.

It was the Republican majority in one of the state’s legislative chambers that brought the legal challenge, so unless or until the political balance changes in that state, a vote to join the interstate carbon dioxide capping program is unlikely.

Adding Pennsylvania would have been a major expansion of the 11-state RGGI compact. Its many fossil fuel power plants would need to buy $400 million or more worth of CO2 allowance credits per year, a third or more than Virginia’s power plants are being taxed.

It is also one of the larger states in the PJM Interconnect regional power marketplace (it is the P) where the power plants do not pay into RGGI, lowering the relative cost of its power when it flows into other PJM states. Virginia electric customers are often using electrons from elsewhere in PJM.

That the money the utilities must pay for operating their fossil fuel plants is a tax is something most RGGI proponents, including those in Virginia, vehemently deny. That was one of the key disputes in the challenge in Pennsylvania, where joining RGGI was a regulatory step initiated by its then-Governor Tom Wolf (D). Continue reading

Miyares Seeks Dismissal of Suit to Save RGGI

The states currently in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative tax compact.

By Steve Haner

Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) is defending the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s decision to exit a multi-state carbon cap and tax compact as within the regulatory agency’s authority. He has also claimed to the circuit court hearing an appeal of that decision that the plaintiffs were not affected by the action directly and thus have no standing to sue.

The four plaintiffs, all associations, filed a 138-page petition in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County in late August. Miyares’ office used just ten pages total for two responses dated September 13. Continue reading

Dominion “Bill Relief” Disappears September 1

By Steve Haner

Homeowners willing to cut back power usage when Dominion Energy Virginia asks them could earn rebates of up to $28 a year. So reports the Richmond Times-Dispatch, citing yet another final order from the State Corporation Commission.

The Richmond paper is always bringing us such great news about the folks at the giant utility looking out for us. The headline in the print edition today is even more positive: “New Rebate Program Could Lower Power Bills.”

Who is actually going to provide the $28 in hard cash? Yep, Bacon’s Rebellion readers get it on the first try. Dominion will raise the rebate money given to the few by raising its cost of electricity to everybody. Even the people getting rebates will pay the surcharge. But your bill just goes up a bit — so little you won’t notice the increase starting on September 1.

You also won’t notice it because the increase in the energy efficiency program’s rate adjustment clause (a separate charge also known as a RAC or rider), is just one of several such increases, all hitting September 1.

The higher bill totals will be creeping into your email and snail mail inboxes along with all the campaign brochures about how the 2023 General Assembly provided “bill relief.” That is gone in a puff of smoke. Come September 1 Dominion customers also start paying for, or start paying more for: Continue reading

RGGI Reg Repealed, But RGGI Tax Returns to Bills

The states currently in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative tax compact.  Put an X through Virginia as of January 2024? Pennsylvania remains covered with a question mark.

by Steve Haner

Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board voted Wednesday to remove Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, keeping Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s promise to eliminate the related carbon tax that has been imposed on electricity ratepayers under RGGI since January 2021.

The bad news is the tax itself won’t disappear until at the earliest September 2024.  Collection from customers has been delayed.  A separate bill surcharge to collect the tax, imposed and then removed by Dominion Energy Virginia, is likely to be imposed again as of September 1 of this year.  A State Corporation Commission hearing examiner has recommended approval of Dominion’s petition to collect another $350 million or so from its customers.

The surcharge is still being calculated, as there remains some dispute over what the full costs are.  The warmer than normal winter reduced electricity demand and required fewer RGGI credits.  The surcharge should settle somewhere above $4 per 1,000 kilowatt hours of usage.  In effect, as the hearing examiner notes, Dominion is seeking to collect 17 months of RGGI allowance costs in just 12 months. Continue reading

Under RGGI Virginia Releases More CO2, Not Less

With the March 8 RGGI results, Virginia power producers have now paid $590 million in carbon taxes. Click for larger view.

by Steve Haner

Since Virginia joined the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) compact at the start of 2021, according to data reported by the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to provide electricity to customers in the state has grown. Despite two years of RGGI caps and taxes, total CO2 emissions did not shrink, but grew by 3.7 million tons.

That is because the emissions total includes tracking all power producers providing electrons to the state, which is not the same as emissions from power producers located within the state. Virginia’s membership in RGGI is having the exact opposite effect from what its adherents claim it does because, as many predicted, it has forced Virginia to import far more electricity than it used to.

During the two-year period, electricity consumption within the state grew to 130 million megawatt hours, up 11%. Electricity imports grew from 14 million megawatt hours in 2020 to more than 39 million MWH in 2022, up 280%. RGGI has simply driven power production from fossil fuels used by Virginia to other states. As it has for the other RGGI member states.

These conclusions come from EIA data compiled by David Stevenson, director of the Caesar Rodney Institute in Delaware, and long a skeptic on the benefits of RGGI in this region. He added them to the growing list of public comments on the Virginia Air Pollution Control Board’s pending proposal to take Virginia out of RGGI at the end of 2023. More details and citations from Stevenson are contained in a longer discussion which you can read here; and in a table he created, which is reproduced below. Continue reading

Dominion Seeks Return of RGGI Tax to Its Bills

The states currently in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative CO2 emissions compact.

by Steve Haner

The on again, off again, direct tax on Dominion Energy Virginia bills to pay for the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) may be on again. If you feel like you are watching a shell game and just cannot find the pea, that is intentional.

In its sales pitch for its latest effort to create a more favorable regulatory environment, Dominion Energy Virginia is touting its proposal to take several of its existing stand-alone rate adjustment charges (RACs) and roll them into its base rates. The claim is that will save ratepayers $350 million. Continue reading

Support Governor Youngkin’s RGGI Repeal 

by Colin M. Kelly

I can only laugh at the headlines and statements being made by the media and climate alarmists about Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s efforts to pull Virginia out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

The headline “Returning Millions to Virginia” really grates: The state takes money out of the consumer’s pocket with the RGGI tax, divides it up among cronies and supporters by issuing contracts for various studies, and then somehow claims a victory for the consumer! I guess the politicians assume you and I don’t need the money.

In the two years since former Gov. Ralph Northam implemented this tax, the state has collected over $500 million from consumers via this back-door tax embedded in our electric bills. Can you imagine the outrage if Dominion Energy had over-collected that much!

Further, the claims of reducing health costs and helping to weatherize homes are simply ridiculous. “Come on man,” I’ve been hearing these claims since the oil embargoes of the 1970’s. I would bet my dog that if you added up all the deaths supposedly avoided thanks to proposed government regulations over the last 50 years, the average John/Jane Doe’s lifespan would be 110. But sadly we are the only Western country with a declining life expectancy.

If our elected officials believe the projects to be funded by the RGGI tax have merit, then they should be funded through the state’s General Fund. However, the 5% overhead charge by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to manage RGGI is clearly outrageous. Continue reading

RGGI Tax, On Path to Repeal, Reaches $524 Million

Virginia’s two year take of carbon taxes under RGGI. RGGI table.

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

The tax on each ton of carbon dioxide emitted by Virginia electricity plants dropped to below $13 a ton in the most recent sale of CO2 allowances conducted by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). That meant Virginia collected only $71 million in tax revenue for the fourth quarter, the lowest amount of the four auctions in 2022. Continue reading

Consequences of the Zero Carbon Fantasy

By Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

Virginians may finally be waking up to the consequences of the headlong rush to adopt utopian energy policies under our previous governor. The issues are getting more attention than ever before, and now people need to realize that all the issues are really just one issue.

  • A California regulatory board’s decision to ban new gasoline vehicle sales by 2035 is finally being widely reported as binding on Virginia. This has angered many but was actually old news. Under a 2021 Virginia law, our Air Pollution Control Board had already imposed the future sales restrictions, and it was some new amendments that sparked the news coverage. Various political leaders have now promised to stop it but a bill to reverse it died in the 2022 General Assembly when Democrats rallied to save the mandate.
  • Our dominant electric utility has finally acknowledged that its planned $10 billion offshore wind facility is a gigantic financial risk and is now refusing to build it unless the State Corporation Commission (SCC) places 100 percent of the construction and performance risk on its customers. Dominion Energy Virginia knows many things about this proposal it has not told us.
  • Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) is trying to remove Virginia from an interstate compact that mandates a carbon tax on electricity, imposed under former Governor Ralph Northam (D). Advocates for the tax are pushing back and will fight, delay and likely sue to preserve the tax, which costs Virginians $300 million per year at current levels and will continue to rise. Without explanation, the Governor did not keep his initial promise to promulgate an emergency regulation that could remove it quickly, so the tax lingers.
  • Governor Youngkin has opened the process for developing a revised statewide energy plan document, a political process to produce what in the past has been merely a political document. The public comment portal has already become an ideological fistfight. Northam’s 2018 plan had no engineering or economic detail.  It simply praised the legislative efforts to erase fossil fuels which had been adopted to that point and outlined the next steps his administration would take (couched as recommendations.)

Continue reading

Fuel Costs Explode on Dominion Bills in July

by Steve Haner

Are you enjoying paying more for gasoline? Have you noticed how that works its way through and inflates the price of just about everything else you buy? The other shoe drops in July when Dominion Energy Virginia increases its prices to reflect the rising cost of fuel. It will also spread more inflation virus throughout the economy.

The cost of fuel and purchased electricity is a separate charge, designated Rider A, on every monthly electric bill, residential and commercial. The annual fluctuations are usually small, and can go either way, but the increase this time will hit everybody hard and may hold for years. (Here is the case file.) Continue reading

You Just Paid More RGGI Tax, Virginians

Six RGGI auctions have reaped Virginia $378 million.

by Steve Haner

Last week Virginia collected another $76 million in carbon tax dollars through the ongoing Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative allowance auction. That was the sixth such sale since Virginia joined RGGI, and the state’s total tax take is now $378 million in 18 months.

Do not for one minute allow yourself to be fooled into thinking this money is not coming out of the pockets of Virginia’s citizens or businesses. Do not fall for the ploy Dominion Energy Virginia is attempting by claiming it will charge it off to “base rates.” The pea is still under your walnut shell.  Continue reading

Weather Writer/Climate Warrior Defends RGGI Tax

Sean Sublette, staff meteorologist for the Richmond Times Dispatch.

by Steve Haner

The Richmond Times-Dispatch weather reporter has entered the political debate over Governor Glenn Youngkin’s efforts to exit the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). But is he really a weather reporter, or a climate warrior?

Sean Sublette’s on-line report on RGGI is packaged as a simple recitation of facts, but it is the selection of which facts to include and exclude that makes it interesting, and he gets many facts wrong. At the start, he makes one central claim which I have disputed: that Virginia entered RGGI “through an act of the General Assembly.”

Virginia entered RGGI through a regulation adopted by the Air Pollution Control Board, which was followed by Virginia signing a contract. The legislature authorized but did not mandate RGGI participation and the carbon tax. It mandated carbon reductions, but not the method. His opening assertion takes a side in the argument, against the current Governor.

Actually this is his opening assertion, after noting that the program exists to reduce carbon dioxide releases: “These gasses are directly tied to observed planetary warming.” From the same level of scientific certainty that brought you cloth masks against a virus.

No one should be surprised that this is his first premise. Sublette came to the newspaper last year from an organization called Climate Central, part of the climate catastrophe-industrial complex that promotes the wind and solar industries. Here’s a pretty typical example of his output there, this on “the hottest global year on record.” Continue reading