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CT Has Higher Power Plant Emissions Among Northeastern States

Connecticut has the fifth highest share of electricity provided by nuclear power in the nation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. (Ralf Vetterle/Pixabay)
Connecticut has the fifth highest share of electricity provided by nuclear power in the nation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. (Ralf Vetterle/Pixabay)
February 13, 2020

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has lowered power plant emissions dramatically in the Northeast, but Connecticut has made little progress by comparison.

The program, known as RGGI, sets a carbon cap. It has helped reduce power plant emissions by close to 50% over the course of a decade in nine Northeastern states, according to a recent Acadia Center report.

Jordan Stutt, carbon programs director at Acadia Center, which promotes clean energy, breaks down how Connecticut has performed in comparison with other participating states.

"So in Connecticut, it's come down a small amount, about 8% from 2008 to 2019," Stutt points out. "In other states, it's more than 70%."

The main reason is that Connecticut heavily relies on nuclear power for electricity -- more so than most states.

RGGI works by capping carbon emissions from the energy sector. Power plants must buy allowances through quarterly auctions if they pollute beyond the cap. This money then supports energy efficiency improvements.

Still, Stutt explains why power plant usage remains high in Connecticut.

"We operate in a regional electricity market, so if those are the plants that can produce that electricity most cost effectively, they'll continue to run," he explains.

In other words, even though Connecticut power plants have to pay carbon allowances, they still are cheaper electricity suppliers than other sources.

States such as Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts have increased electricity usage from renewable energy sources and natural gas. This has decreased carbon emissions by more than 70% over 10 years.

Other participating RGGI states include New York, Maryland, Delaware, Rhode Island and Vermont. New Jersey also is rejoining RGGI, and Virginia and Pennsylvania are joining soon.

Laura Rosbrow-Telem, Public News Service - CT