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Northeast carbon market allowance prices edge higher

Over-the-counter prices for Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative CO2 allowances continued to move slightly higher during the week ended Oct. 17 on light buying.

Broker data showed the October 2019 vintage 2019 contract in a bid-and-ask range of $5.46/ton to $5.55/ton, up 1 cent from Oct. 3. The benchmark December 2019 vintage 2019 contract was pegged in a bid-and-offer spread of $5.46/ton to $5.60/ton, increasing 7 cents from Oct. 3 assessments.

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Market participants could also be positioning themselves before RGGI holds its final quarterly auction of the year Dec. 4. At the sale, 13,116,444 2019 allowances will be placed on the auction block, according to documents released Oct. 8.

At RGGI's latest auction held Sept. 6, 100% of the more than 13 million RGGI CO2 allowances were sold at $5.20/ton, down 42 cents from the prior auction price in June and the lowest level in a year.

The nine participating states are Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. These states use a market-based cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from regional power plants, selling nearly all emissions allowances through auctions and investing the proceeds in ways that vary state by state.

The participating states invested a total of $315.6 million in RGGI auction proceeds in 2017 in energy efficiency, clean and renewable energy, greenhouse gas abatement, and direct bill assistance, according to an Oct. 9 report.

RGGI said that like in previous years, the largest share of these investments was allotted for energy efficiency, accounting for 51% of the 2017 total. Direct bill assistance was next with 16%, followed by greenhouse gas abatement and clean and renewable energy, each representing 14% of the 2017 total.

Over the life of these projects, the 2017 RGGI investments are projected to provide $1.4 billion in energy bill savings, avoid the use of 13.9 million MWh of electricity and prevent the emission of 8.3 million short tons of CO2.

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