Virginia Forges Ahead on Climate, Clean Energy

The states participating in RGGI have all seen incredible public health and economic gains since the program took effect. A recent report from Abt Associates concluded the reductions in air pollution achieved under RGGI have generated an estimated $5.7 billion in public health benefits.

At the same time, Acadia Center estimates electricity prices in RGGI states fell by 6.4 percent while prices rose by a similar margin elsewhere. Overall, energy efficiency programs supported by revenue raised under RGGI in just its first six years were estimated to yield $1.56 billion in energy bill savings.

On top of this, the RGGI states’ economies outpaced the rest of the nation. By 2016, emissions had dropped by 33 percent, while the RGGI states’ economy grew by 29.7 percent.

Read the full article from Alt Daily here.

Obama’s Clean Power Plan Might Be Dead In D.C., But States Are Rebuilding It Themselves

But as Fast Company has written before, the emissions reductions laid out under the Clean Power Plan are already underway, and the directive from Virginia, says Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the clean-energy research nonprofit Acadia Center, “is the first domino in what will be a series of states moving to adopt clean energy policies.”

In issuing the directive to Virginia’s DEQ, McAuliffe instructed that his state’s proposal to limit energy-sector emissions should fall in line with those already in place across the country, and is looking specifically to California and a coalition of nine East Coast states united under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), both of which have successfully implemented cap-and-trade policies to curb carbon dioxide emissions. Stutt says that while cap-and-trade policy implementation has been slow to spread beyond California and the RGGI (pronounced “Reggie”) states, and now Virginia, “the conversation is getting louder.” Following Obama’s introduction of the Clean Power Plan two years ago, “the whole country began preparing to comply with the standards, and most states were looking at how a RGGI model–a cap-and-trade model–might work in their state,” Stutt says.


“States are looking to these programs; they don’t want to be missing out on all the benefits the RGGI states and California have been seeing for revenue to be reinvested in clean energy initiatives and infrastructure needs,” Stutt says.

While cap-and-trade has proven effective in the RGGI states and California, and it’s likely to be the model that Virginia pursues (Stutt met with legislators in the state as far back as two years ago, as they were gauging the possibility of Virginia becoming part of RGGI), NextGen Climate founder and philanthropist Tom Steyer–who has considered running for governor of California–tells Fast Company that “there is no one magic bullet” that will dictate how states drive clean energy policies going forward. “The unending increase in the efficiency and effectiveness of technology is driving down the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar dramatically,” Steyer says. Unlike coal, whose price continues to rise as its supply constricts, renewable generation can proliferate with no harm to society, and states on both sides of the political divide are responding to the favorable market conditions.


While currently, those states most aggressively pursuing cap-and-trade and other carbon-reduction policies are blue states, both Kiely and Stutt emphasize that support for clean energy policies extends across political divides. RGGI was proposed by a Republican, former New York governor George E. Pataki, and John Kasich, the Republican governor of Ohio, vetoed an attempt by the state legislature in December to make the state’s renewable energy standards voluntary, saying to roll back the renewable energy policy would hurt Ohio’s economy (the legislature is continuing to fight the veto). And some of the strongest supporters of wind energy come from states like Iowa and Texas, where the availability of natural resources has driven the cost of renewables down. In Iowa, the cost is so dramatically lower that to do anything other than integrate wind into the energy landscape would put the state at an economic disadvantage–and powerful Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is strongly in support of increasing the amount of wind power the state produces.

Read the full article from Fast Company here.

McAuliffe puts Va. on a path to its own Clean Power Plan

RGGI states are currently re-evaluating their trading rules, and Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at the Acadia Center, said the timing could be convenient for Virginia.

“As Virginia could develop this new regulation as the RGGI states are revising their existing rules, setting up all 10 states for concurrent adoption of the new rules in 2018,” he said.

Praise from greens, with caveats

Stutt said the move makes sense for Virginia because “in addition to the price signal favoring low-carbon generation, participating in this market could generate substantial revenue for reinvestment in the state.”

Read the full article from E&E News here (may require a subscription to access).

RGGI Would Boost VA Economy and Meet Future Climate Goals

Participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) would bring significant benefits to Virginia, according to analysis released today by Acadia Center. Acadia Center has been tracking RGGI since the program’s launch in 2009, and drew on this expertise to arrive at the following key findings:

  • RGGI provides a flexible, straightforward mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Participating in RGGI would enable Virginia to meet Environmental Protection Agency requirements to reduce GHG emissions from power plants.
  • RGGI would raise $2.8 billion by 2030 for Virginia to reinvest in complimentary consumer and climate programs

“RGGI has been successful in the states that currently participate.  It is helping to reduce carbon emissions, while offering a demonstrated record of advancing economic development, and saving consumers money on energy,” said Daniel L. Sosland, Acadia Center President.

“RGGI has received significant attention and growing support as a means of reducing climate pollution and helping to protect the state from sea level rise and other damaging effects of climate change,” said Dawone Robinson of Chesapeake Climate Action Network. “This analysis helps show why RGGI is the right solution for Virginia.”

Virginia needs a plan for cutting greenhouse gas pollution from major generators to meet the federal requirements of EPA’s Clean Power Plan.  A recent study by the regional grid operator PJM showed that a multi-state program—like RGGI—was the most cost-effective way for Virginia and other PJM states to meet the regulations.

“The RGGI program is well-established and has a track record of results: driving down emissions and bringing in revenue and other economic benefits. The numbers clearly show how much Virginia and other states could gain by joining,” said Stutt.

The current RGGI states have used the majority of revenue raised through the program to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy programs, which have generated $3.40-$3.70 in economic growth for every $1 invested. Revenue can also be used to meet local needs such as adaptation planning or investment in diversifying Southwest Virginia’s economy and retraining its workforce.

For more information see:


Emily Avery-Miller, Director External Relations, Acadia Center, 617-742-0054 x100,
Jordan Stutt, Policy Analyst, Acadia Center, 617-742-0054 x105,
Dawone Robinson, Virginia Policy Director, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, 804-767-0372,



Acadia Center is a non-profit, research and advocacy organization committed to advancing the clean energy future. Acadia Center is at the forefront of efforts to build clean, low-carbon and consumer-friendly economies. Acadia Center provides accurate and reliable information, and offers a real-world and comprehensive approach to problem solving through innovation and collaboration.