Massachusetts has signed an agreement with eight other states to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 90 million tons over the next six years.
As part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) – the nation’s first mandatory “cap-and-trade” program for carbon dioxide emissions – Massachusetts, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont are lowering the current cap on power plant emissions from the 165 to 91 million tons per year, starting in 2014.
After 2020, the cap will continue to lower by 2.5 percent per year.
“This is one of the largest greenhouse gas reduction measures that we have seen,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan.
The RGGI Board of Directors estimates that under the new caps, the average Massachusetts residential customer’s monthly electricity bill of $72 will rise by 39 cents , the average commercial monthly bill of $455 will rise by $3.89, and the average industrial monthly bill of $6,659 will rise by $83.
"One reason the bill impact is modest is because Massachusetts invests more than 80 percent of the RGGI proceeds into energy efficiency, and for each dollar invested, a consumer saves approximately $3 from reduced energy usage," a press release from Gov. Deval Patrick's office states.
The bill forces power plants to be more energy efficient, ultimately resulting in a lifetime savings of $1.1 billion for the state's households, businesses and other electricity users.