A new report analyzed the potential impact of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative on Pennsylvania emissions, power generation, revenue, and jobs.
The initiative’s goal is to reduce carbon emissions through a cap-and-trade system. It has been in existence since 2009 and Pennsylvania would be the 12th state to join the program.
Maya Domeshek, research associate for the group Resources For The Future and the report’s co-author, said they looked at what would happen to the current power generation mix and emissions in Pennsylvania if the state remained outside the initiative, or if it joined. They found by joining, Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas emissions would fall faster, as well as emissions in the overall region.
“We also find that fall in emissions in Pennsylvania primarily comes from reduction in generation and fossil-fuel plants, particularly coal plants,” Domeshek reported. “It also comes with an increase in generation at renewable facilities that will be built going forward.”
Domeshek added a lot of states taking part in the initiative are using it to help meet their climate goals. Pennsylvania also has a climate commitment and wrote the regulations to join the initiative in 2022, but pending lawsuits are preventing the program from going into effect.
One of the report’s six conclusions was emissions reductions are achieved with small changes in retail electricity prices. Domeshek explained they found joining the initiative would not increase people’s electric bills by much. She emphasized although fossil fuel plants would be paying more in a cap-and-trade system, the state would ultimately use less power from the plants.
“As the generation mix changes over the next decade, instead of seeing a large increase in retail electricity prices because of those compliance costs of the program, we’re likely to see very little impact,” Domeshek asserted. “It’s even possible that we could see electricity bills fall.”
The research also found joining the initiative is unlikely to impact overall employment in the state and Pennsylvania could use some of the program revenue to benefit communities affected by phasing out coal.