Climate: Air Board Synchs Cap & Trade Schedule

By Published On: February 10, 2012

The California Air Resources Board late last month laid out a calendar of activities for its carbon cap-and-trade program this year, confirming that the agency plans to hold the first emissions rights auction on Aug. 15. Before then, the Air Board plans to issue a public notice on June 15 with a notice Sept. 14 planned to announce the still to be determined date of its second auction. Utilities can expect their free emissions allowances, or rights, to be distributed sometime in the third quarter of this year. Other eligible industries are to get their free allowances in the final quarter. Meanwhile, the Air Board in June is hoping to adopt amendments to its program that will allow California to link its carbon emissions rights auctions to those held in Quebec under that Canadian province’s similar cap-and-trade program. Air Board staff are busy developing the linkage amendments now and expect to release draft changes this spring. * * * * * As California hinges much of its greenhouse reduction goal for 2020 under the state’s climate protection law AB 32 on renewable energy, a recent report by the Energy Information Administration shows just how far the state has to go. California’s greenhouse gas reduction plan depends upon being able to meet 33 percent of the state’s power needs in 2020 with renewable energy. The EIA report shows that much of the time in California, renewables supply far less than the state’s 20 percent standard for carbon-free power. For instance, EIA examined selected dates from each season in California and found that in the spring and fall renewable power production was far below 20 percent. For instance, on May 9, 2011, renewable power met 14 percent of generation needs and on Oct. 18 it met 8 percent of total needs. EIA said the data show the challenge of integrating intermittent renewable energy into the grid, although it lauded state solar thermal projects for their energy storage capabilities designed to even out power production. * * * * * From January 2009 through January 2010, the overall state economy suffered a 7 percent jobs loss, according to Many Shades of Green, a report by Next 10. At the same time, job losses in the “the core green economy,” which includes renewable energy firms, clean-fuel cars, water conservation, and emissions trading, saw an overall 3 percent loss. “[W]e found that the global financial crisis and the mortgage crisis that caused our overall economy to go into a deep dive did not have as damaging an impact on the state’s core green economy,” stated Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, a nonpartisan research group. That left 169,800 green jobs in the state at the start of 2010. Regions, such as San Diego, the Bay Area, and Sacramento, remained resilient with less than a 2 percent green employment decline. Los Angeles, which has more than 20 percent of all green jobs in the state, saw its positions slip 4 percent to 26,600. U.S. energy secretary Steven Chu Feb. 8 announced over $12 million would be invested to speed solar energy innovation from the lab to the marketplace. The funding that will flow through the DOE’s SunShot Incubator program aims to advance “innovation in solar energy and manufacturing by supporting advancements in hardware, reductions in soft costs, and the development of pilot manufacturing and production projects.” The targets are new startups and business units within existing companies to accelerate innovative solar technology development. Since 2007, DOE has invested $60 million in this program which has “catalyzed $1.6 billion in private sector support,” according to DOE.

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