PA Entrance Into RGGI Ruled Unconstitutional

PA state court ruled that the RGGI policy went against the state's constitution. Learn the reason why and what you can do to save on your electricity rates.

PA RGGI Participation Halted

PA effort to join RGGI stopped by Commonwealth Court. Learn how it may affect your future electricity bills and what you can do.
A commonwealth court stopped the state from starting its RGGI policy. Find the reasons why and how it might affect your future PA electricity rates.

On November 1, a Pennsylvania court overturned the state’s plan to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The dispute is far from settled. But this does mean there may be changes to how green energy is handled in Pennsylvania. And that also means you could see future changes to your electricity rates. Here’s what you need to know about the RGGI court case and what might happen next to PA energy.

Background to PA Plans to Join RGGI

In 2019, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered the PA┬áDepartment of Environmental Protection (DEP) to join the RGGI. The DEP could use it to develop a carbon cap and “invest” policy. Several New England and Mid-Atlantic states operate the RGGI to cut CO2 emissions from fossil fuel power plants. The process starts when power plants purchase CO2 emission allowances. These must be equal to the amount of CO2 they emitted when producing electricity. Any companies with extra CO2 allowances can sell them to generators that need more. Generators then pay their state for their emissions. After that, the state reinvests the funds in energy efficiency, renewable energy projects, and bill rebates for consumers.

RGGI Taxes Ruled Unconstitutional by PA Court

Republican lawmakers and industry groups long opposed the plan. In court, they argued that the DEP lacks authority to collect payments as they were in fact taxes. On November 1, 2023, four of the five-judge Commonwealth Court ruled that the program is an illegal tax. Their reason was that according to PA law, only the state legislature can lexy taxes. However, according to the Air Pollution Control Act, the DEP can charge fees. In her dissenting opinion, Judge Ellen Ceisler wrote that the money raised is actually a fee, and not a tax.

What Comes Next

This past April, Governor Shapiro assembled a working group of experts from the oil and gas industry, environmental organizations, and labor unions to discuss joining RGGI. Their discussions explored whether the program would create jobs and protect consumers while cutting emissions. But while these meetings did generate useful discussions, their impact was made moot by the court’s decision. It’s unclear if the governor will appeal the case at the PA Supreme Court. He has 30 days to file a challenge.

So, for the moment, RGGI’s future in the state remains unclear. The looming problem may seem masked from consumers. That’s because green energy sources in the state have not had a chance to cut electricity rates. That means that consumers may see fossil fuel prices bite deeper into their future electricity bills.

Save on Electricity in PA

What’s clear is that climate change is affecting Pennsylvanians. And that won’t end anytime soon. In the meantime, the most important thing you can do to save on your is compare and shop electricity rates. That way you can find the best electricity plan that fits your need and keeps your bill low.

Check out different plans in your area, read reviews, and make saving money easy. Visit https://www.paenergyratings.com

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