Debunking RGGI Myths

The current administration continues to make false claims regarding Virginia’s participation in RGGI. Below are some of the most common claims, along with narratives separating fact from fiction.

RGGI doesn’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions: False. Improving energy efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the amount of energy needed for daily life. The cheapest and greenest unit of energy is the one that is never used.

RGGI is a regressive carbon tax: False. RGGI is not a tax at all. It’s a regional carbon cap and trade program that incentivizes utilities to lower greenhouse gas emissions. In Virginia, proceeds from these auctions go to low-income energy efficiency programs, as well as resiliency and flood mitigation programs.

RGGI funds don’t help anyone: False. The funds going to the Housing Innovation Energy Efficiency program enable weatherization providers and affordable housing developers to improve the health, safety, and affordability of homes while dramatically lowering energy bills like never before.

RGGI is raising ratepayer’s electricity bills: True. The way that RGGI is structured by statute in Virginia, the utilities can pass the costs of participation on to ratepayers, with an average monthly increase of around $3. HOWEVER, when compared to wildly runaway fuel costs and more frequent extreme weather events, it’s clear that RGGI is not part of the problem – it’s part of the solution. Reducing energy use lowers electricity bills for the most vulnerable members of our population and helps seniors gracefully age in place.  

Low-income energy efficiency is important, but there are other ways to fund these programs: False. During the first two years of participation, RGGI provided $250M to make low-income housing in Virginia more energy efficient. That is more than every other energy efficiency funding source in the state – combined. While new federal funding will help make more homes energy-efficient, those funds will likely be unattainable to low-income households who cannot afford the upfront costs required. Additionally, Governor Youngkin’s proposed budget does not provide any new funding for low-income energy efficiency programs.  RGGI dollars are truly the only answer the most vulnerable Virginia families have to their problems.