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Governor Deval Patrick, D-Mass., recently signed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) in an effort to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and tackle global climate change.

Under RGGI, annual emissions of CO2 in Massachusetts from power plants of 25 MW and larger will be capped at approximately 26 million tons statewide from 2009 through 2014, then reduced incrementally by 2.5% per year for the next four years. Under this cap, each state is given allowances for its emissions. The governor says the state will use the proceeds from the sale of emissions allowances to fund an aggressive program of energy savings for households and industry.

"Changes in the electricity market are creating new economic incentives for large-scale energy efficiency initiatives and programs that cut electricity demand on peak days," says Secretary of Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles. "The governor wants to use these incentives - along with those created by RGGI - to drive down greenhouse gas emissions, drive down electricity costs, drive up energy efficiency and strengthen reliability of the power system."

On terms reached in December 2005, seven states - including Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont - signed a Memorandum of Understanding to participate in the RGGI system. Massachusetts, which had been involved in the development of RGGI, declined to sign the agreement at that time.

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