Figure 1: 2018 RGGI MWh Electricity Generation vs Consumption
What Caused the Drop in U.S. Emissions?
While energy efficiency for RGGI and non-RGGI states has improved since 2005, it is interesting to note that the RGGI compares emissions of today to those in either 2005 or 2008. This date range was when the shale boom started in the United States, leading to coal fired power plants being converted to or replaced by natural gas fired power plants, dramatically reducing carbon emissions. This reduction is confirmed by the EIA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) .
In addition to natural gas replacing coal, the United States is indeed seeing a renewable revolution driven by both private and public sectors. Even though natural gas will remain the electricity producing king for the foreseeable future, the renewable sector is projected to gain ground on energy production through the year 2050. The combination of replacing coal generation with natural gas and renewable will continue to decrease power plant emissions in the United States both within and outside of the RGGI.
How Could Pennsylvanians Be Affected?
This post has laid out how electricity generation has been shifted outside of the RGGI, which has affected Pennsylvania power plants. In response to executive pressure to join the RGGI, the PA State Senate drafted a letter in February 2021 which compiles data from various sources including the Penn State Center for Energy Law and Policy. This letter and supporting evidence within states that by Pennsylvania joining the RGGI, PA power plants would be shut down, non-RGGI states would be subsidized to generate more electricity, energy wages within the state would decrease, and a nearly 8% energy rate increase for Pennsylvanians. This combination would be detrimental to the Commonwealth.
Carbon Emission Reduction Alternatives
While there are a multitude of carbon tax alternatives being proposed through policy or utility capital expenditures, the private sector will steer Pennsylvania and the United States towards electricity generation with less emissions. The best way for businesses and citizens to save energy, cut emissions, and save money is through an energy management strategy of conserve, replace, and control. Tenergy LLC is always ready to assist businesses and homeowners develop an energy management strategy through an energy study of your business or home!
The United States continues to generate more energy while becoming more energy efficient and greener. Large portions of electricity that are consumed by states within the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative are being generated outside of the RGGI. Even though these states are lowering the power sector emissions, these savings are being offset by non-RGGI states and electricity costs are anticipated to continue to increase. The private sector will continue to improve energy technologies and the market will guide Pennsylvania and the United States towards greener technologies without the need of a carbon tax.