Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Climate Comity? Utilities’ Group Details What It Wants in Carbon Policy (Let the Gaming Begin!)

From Environmental Capital:

Some breaking news on the climate-change front: The Edison Electric Institute, which represents the nation’s major, shareholder-owned utilities, is about to announce a “unified” position on what climate-change legislation should look like.

A person familiar with the matter says the group plans to announce this morning that it will focus its efforts on a cap-and-trade program, but “also remain open to a tax-based or hybrid approach in the event the political environment shifts.” The group plans to suggest ways to control the costs associated with regulation and to divvy up permits that companies would get to allow them to pollute.

Among other steps, the group plans to call for an “initial allocation” to the electric power sector consistent with its level of CO2 emissions - roughly 40%. Over time, the group plans to say, more allowances should be transferred to the power sector from oil and gas industry, as the market share of electric cars rises. Bet the folks at the American Petroleum Institute love that!...MORE

Here's the EEI press release:

EEI Board Unveils Expanded Framework to Help Guide Climate Legislation, Minimize Compliance Cost to Customers

The Edison Electric Institute Board of Directors, seeking to intensify the industry’s commitment to swift enactment of federal legislation capping greenhouse gas emissions, has adopted an updated climate change framework calling for an 80 percent reduction of carbon emissions by 2050, from current levels.

In a significant breakthrough designed to help insulate customers from the compliance costs of new climate legislation, the EEI framework for the first time also recommends to Congress a unified industry position for allocating emissions allowances distributed to the utility sector under potential cap-and-trade legislation. The EEI Board recommended that the initial emission allowance allocation to the electric power sector should be 40 percent, equal to its portion of U.S. carbon emissions.

“We believe these principles will help assure that U.S. climate policy is successful in both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing the very real cost concerns of our customers as much as possible,” said EEI Chairman David M. Ratcliffe, chairman, president and CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Company.

Echoing this sentiment, EEI President Tom Kuhn said, “This is a critically important step for our industry’s engagement in the climate change policy debate, and it reinforces the urgency we attach toward enacting a bill,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “Our CEOs worked diligently over a period of months to reach this point, and they deserve to be commended for their efforts to make a constructive industry contribution to the deliberations that soon will be under way in Congress.”

Kuhn noted that the new document builds upon the climate change principles the EEI Board adopted in February 2007, which committed EEI to supporting the concept of mandatory federal legislation capping carbon emissions. The 2007 framework emphasized the importance of developing and using a full range of climate-friendly technologies as well as including a series of measures to contain costs to customers.

“These new points of agreement take our industry’s engagement on the climate issue to the next level,” explained Kuhn. Commenting on the issue of emissions allowances, Kuhn reiterated the industry’s advocacy of a full distribution of allowances in the early years of a climate program, followed by a gradual transition to an auction-based approach....MORE

It's a short PDF, two pages, but I count six points that could be interpreted in more than one way. Maybe tomorrow.