U.S. Northeast Carbon-Offset Sale Raises a Record $124.5 Million

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Inc., the nonprofit that administers the U.S. Northeast’s greenhouse-gas emissions program, raised a record $124.5 million in its quarterly auction of carbon allowances after slashing next year’s supply by almost half.

RGGI sold all of the 38.8 million allowances that were offered at a clearing price of $3.21, up from $2.80 in March and the first time in the program’s history that prices increased in two consecutive quarters, the New York-based group said today in a statement on its website.

RGGI said in February that it will reduce the number of available permits 45 percent next year in an effort to drive up prices. The June 5 auction marked the first time since 2010 that every allowance was sold in two consecutive quarters. The surplus had depressed prices to no more than no more than $1.93 in the 11 quarterly events through December.

“RGGI continues to generate hard data showing that market-based emission-reduction programs are an effective way to realize environmental goals,” Collin O’Mara, secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and RGGI’s chairman.

Each permit gives a company the right to emit one ton of carbon dioxide in a cap-and-trade program that includes the six New England states, New York, Delaware and Maryland. States use the proceeds for renewable-energy programs, utility programs, assisting consumers with bills or to pad their general funds.

About $117 million, the previous high, was raised in RGGI’s third auction in March 2009. The next sale is scheduled for Sept. 4.