Maine has just pioneered a world first towards being able to trade weatherization on the cap and trade market. MaineHousing had a goal to get every home and half the businesses in Maine weatherized within the next twenty years, but like most states, is starved for funds to help homeowners finance it.
MaineHousing Director Dale McCormick may just have found the funds to to get it done. Putting weatherization credits on the cap and trade market.
Until now cap and trade has only been used to provide the funds for clean energy installations or large scale commercial energy efficiency retrofits which save fossil energy and reduce carbon emissions. But Maine relies on home heating oil to keep warm in winter. Each old leaky house leaks two tons of carbon every year from poor insulation, to say nothing of leaking dollars.
So Maine has, for the first time, begun the process to link home weatherization to carbon credits. “We had a party,” laughed McCormick. “We made history. It’s the first time in the world, we’re very proud.”
As the pioneer, Maine now gets more and more calls about other states. “California just called, Oregon, Wisconsin, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, like we’re too popular.” says McCormick. Especially since Fannie and Freddie just chickened out of PACE funding, states are searching for other no-expenditure ways to raise the funds to subsidize energy retrofits.
In order to trade on a carbon market, you have to have your carbon reduction effort rigorously validated by an independent third party. Maine’s method for measuring the carbon savings was just approved, after years of research and number-crunching by multiple parties; the first step for Maine to earn the money from polluters to clean up its housing stock.
Maine is a member of a cap and trade group, the Regional greenhouse Gas Initiative, or RGGI. Proceeds from all auctions held to date now total more than $662.8 million to invest in clean energy subsidies for consumers and businesses to replace dirty old energy. RGGI cap and trade has successfully lowered the greenhouse gas emissions of four states to below 1990 levels with cap and trade.
Energy efficiency from home weatherization might seem like pretty small potatoes, at only two tons of carbon a year: nothing like installing a CHP system at a large paper mill, for example, which can turn an energy drain into an energy producer.
But for each individual homeowner though, that can represent a lot of money saved, and there’s 477,000 houses in Maine. At two tons of carbon each, that totals 954,000 tons of carbon emissions that could be traded. That IS a significant carbon reduction.
Susan Kraemer @Twitter
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