Senate OKs House bill lowers emissions cap to meet RGGI standards
House Bill 306 lowers the regional emissions cap under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, but does not make other major changes to the program.
The representatives from the nine participating states agreed last year to the lower emissions limits, according to Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, because while significant progress has been made, much of the reduction is due to greater use of less polluting natural gas and the economic recession, which drove down electric use.
Under the bill, the distribution of the proceeds from the auction of carbon allowances will continue to go to core energy efficiency programs run by the state's utilities. Also, the remaining proceeds will be rebated to customers, she said.
For two years, lawmakers have fought over the RGGI program.
Last year lawmakers agreed to shift money generated by the sale of allowances away from individual energy efficiency projects to the core energy efficiency programs.
After the Senate vote, the group's New Hampshire state director, Greg Moore, said the bill would raise the RGGI tax by 30 percent.
The Senate made several changes to the bill, so it will have to return to the House.
The Senate also approved House Bill 630, which allocates 15 percent of the program's fund to low-income energy efficiency programs.