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RGGI carbon allowance prices run higher to conclude year

Over-the-counter Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative carbon dioxide allowance prices were on the upswing in more active buying during the final full week of the month and the year.

Broker data as of Dec. 21 showed the December 2018 vintage 2018 RGGI allowance contract in a bid-and-offer range of $5.45/ton to $5.56/ton, increasing 13 cents from Dec. 10. The December 2019 vintage 2019 RGGI allowance was marked in a bid-and-ask spread of $5.78/ton to $5.82/ton, rising 18 cents from prior assessments.

RGGI secondary market prices have advanced in recent weeks in the wake of the program's final auction of the year, which saw 100% of the more than 13.3 million allowances sell at $5.35/ton each, up 85 cents from the previous auction in September and the highest clearing price since December 2015.

The latest RGGI auction netted more than $61.2 million for participating states, which comprise Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. They 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 proceeds in energy efficiency projects.

New Jersey is inching closer to re-entering the RGGI, proposing two rules earlier this month to rejoin the carbon cap-and-trade program.

One of the proposed rules establishes the mechanisms for rejoining and sets the initial carbon dioxide cap for the state's electricity generation sector at 18 million tons in 2020, when the state will officially begin participating again. The other proposed rule establishes the framework for how New Jersey will spend proceeds from RGGI allowance auctions.

Under former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, New Jersey left the RGGI at the end of 2011, with officials asserting that the program had not substantially lowered emissions in the state, had a negative impact on its economy and led to higher electric rates for consumers.

Virginia is also working on a rule to link the state's power plants emissions reductions to the RGGI.

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