(RALEIGH, NC -- July 15, 2022) - New analysis from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Rural Beacon Initiative (RBI) shows that joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) can be an integral tool for North Carolina to cost-effectively reduce emissions and meet the state’s carbon reduction goals.
North Carolina has taken important steps to combat climate change, including initiating a rulemaking to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the passage of bipartisan energy legislation, House Bill 951 (HB 951), and Gov Cooper’s Executive Order 246 committing the state to better incorporate equity into climate solutions. The rulemaking to join RGGI and HB 951 has initiated complementary regulatory proceedings, both with the goal of reducing power-sector carbon pollution 70% by 2030. This analysis, which draws upon past and current results in RGGI participating states and the North Carolina Clean Energy Plan’s “A-1” report, demonstrates that when combined with HB 951, which requires a Carbon Plan, joining RGGI can be a highly-effective method to achieve the state’s carbon reduction goals in a more durable, cost-effective and equitable manner.
“This new analysis shows that, implemented alongside HB 951, RGGI offers the opportunity to reach North Carolina’s carbon reduction goals with greater certainty and lower costs while achieving deeper pollution reductions in the near-term,” said Alex DeGolia, EDF Director of State Legislative and Regulatory Affairs. “Given the ever-increasing costs of climate change and the Supreme Court’s recent decision limiting EPA’s ability to reduce power plant emissions, it is critical for states to take all available action to secure more durable and equitable progress now. North Carolina can’t miss this important opportunity to deliver for communities and help lead in the fight against climate change.”
“RGGI offers an opportunity to provide North Carolina with a larger set of tools to better support an equitable clean energy transition, but only if NC leaders choose to establish explicit protections for disproportionately burdened communities and to direct revenues towards protecting customers,” said William Barber III, CEO & Founder of Rural Beacon Initiative. "RGGI can help North Carolina reduce carbon pollution more effectively and affordably, but leaders must listen to communities and uphold commitments made through EO 246 to implement meaningful solutions that promote a more equitable and prosperous future for all North Carolina communities.”
While HB 951 and RGGI promote reducing carbon pollution and accelerating the transition to a clean economy, serious consideration must be given to ensure that policies do not perpetuate existing inequities and that substantial benefits flow directly to disproportionately burdened communities.
Key findings of the analysis include:
- By pricing carbon pollution, RGGI provides a least-cost pathway to achieving the goals of HB 951 and helps reduce the risk of overinvestment in polluting power plants;
- RGGI provides greater year-over-year pollution reductions, helping to ensure the state achieves the carbon pollution goals established by HB 951 with near-term pollution reduction providing greater overall climate benefits;
- A combined approach between RGGI and HB 951 could secure three times greater cumulative emissions reductions by 2030, compared to HB 951 alone; and,
- RGGI funds could provide the state with the opportunity to enhance economic development, promote a more equitable clean energy transition and help reduce customer bills. For example, RGGI states’ 2020 energy efficiency investments are estimated to return about $1.2 billion (2020$) in lifetime energy bill savings, a return of over six times, to participating households and businesses in the region.
View the analysis here.
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