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Published on March 28th, 2011 | by Susan Kraemer


Cap+Trade Pays for David Koch’s Fossil Fuel Reduction

March 28th, 2011 by  

MIT‘s newly inaugurated David H Koch Institute is expected to save 30% in energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions.

About a fifth of the cost was funded by pollution-auction proceeds from cap and trade at the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

This very ironic news that David Koch is one of the many beneficiaries of a cap and trade program he bitterly opposes was broken by Positioning Green writer Jon Coifman at Climate Progress.

Money for all those extras came through MIT’s $14 million campus-wide partnership with their utility, NSTAR. In just 36 months, they plan to cut the university’s energy use 15 percent – enough to power 4,500 Massachusetts homes for a year. The total lifetime payback is expected to exceed $50 million.

It isn’t as if the utility wanted to pay for energy efficiency measures for the billionaire’s building at MIT.

By law, Massachusetts utilities are required to pay for efficiency upgrades whenever the energy savings cost less than building the equivalent amount of new generating capacity.

Other than the 20% that came from polluters like the Koch brothers – through the RGGI cap and trade auctions – ratepayers will pay the rest – just as they do for the equivalent investment in new power plants. And if it wasn’t for the well funded opposition to cap and trade (by fossil fuel interests such as the Koch brothers) polluters would have to pay the larger share.

The Koch brothers have attempted to derail the regional cap and trade programs by installing puppet governors in several states, using proxy front groups like The Tea Party and Americans for Prosperity.

They failed (so far, at least) in New Mexico, where newly installed Susana Martinez acted too hastily and clumsily (previous story) and wound up breaking the law in attempting to reverse course on the Western Climate Initiative, but in New Hampshire, their efforts paid off.

New Hampshire’s newly installed Tea Party House promptly voted to get out of RGGI. ( Another Big Win for Koch Tea Party Funding – New Hampshire Abandons its RGGI Polluter Controls ) While the Governor is a Democrat, the Senate already had a GOP majority and is expected to pass it, and given the new House, it is veto-proof.

The RGGI states use the funds from auctions – of what amounts to fines on polluters (pollution permits), to fund energy efficiency and clean energy for their residents. The money is administered though state and utility programs and funds rebates on everything from more efficient boilers, energy-saving windows and appliances, or solar panels and rocket stoves.

Of $789 million raised by RGGI through last December, more than 50% went to energy efficiency projects. Another 11% went for renewables, and 14% to offset bills for low-income families. Less than 5% went for administrative overhead, although last year, NJ and NY raided 1 or 2% from their RGGI funds to balance state budgets.

Even so, NJ now rivals California in solar installs, RGGI state residents are saving money on energy, greenhouse gases are lower in all ten Northeastern member states – and in four of them, are now below 1990 levels.

It’s great to see at least one Koch brother on the side of a healthy environment, even inadvertently, and through a program he opposes.

Cap and trade: its even good for polluters!

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today and Renewable Energy World.  She has also been published at Wind Energy Update, Solar Plaza, Earthtechling PV-Insider , and GreenProphet, Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.

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