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New York draws up carbon pricing game plan

The New York ISO and New York state government plan to present a carbon dioxide pricing proposal by December 2018, according to a draft work plan released by the grid operator on Dec. 27. The plan highlights timelines for New York to include carbon pricing in wholesale energy markets to help achieve the state's climate and energy policies "while providing the greatest benefits at the least cost to consumers and appropriate price signals to incentivize investment and maintain grid reliability."

Among the key questions to be considered with stakeholders in 2018 are how to price carbon into wholesale markets; how to measure leakage and emissions rates for generators; how to allocate carbon revenues; how carbon pricing would affect the ISO capacity market and other grid operator functions; and how a price on carbon would interact with other clean energy and climate policies and programs, including renewable energy and zero-emissions credits, as well as the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

Discussions on how New York’s carbon pricing proposal could be coordinated with other state and regional clean-energy programs are scheduled to begin in March, with recommendations to be delivered by the end of October. New York’s clean energy standard requires 50% of the state’s electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2030. The state is also studying whether it could move to 100% clean energy. The main questions in the draft document relate to potential impacts on the regional emissions trading market, as well as the state’s renewable energy credits and controversial zero-emission credits, which are designed to support nuclear facilities.

As a first step, ISO and state government staff plan to post a preliminary proposal in March, informed by discussions with stakeholders, that will detail any additional analysis needed for the full proposal. Alternatively, they may instead present a detailed schedule by the end of December 2018, targeting a firm proposal date in early 2019, unless they conclude "a viable proposal is not achievable."

An August study from The Brattle Group, conducted for the ISO, found that including a carbon price in the state's wholesale power market would benefit producers more than consumers, but would not significantly raise consumer costs.