PSEG & NJDEP TO RATEPAYERS: IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Posted on May 23, 2011


The New Jersey Department of Environment Protection has a powerful new ally in its fight to keep its carbon cap-and-trade secrets from public scrutiny.

Mercer County Superior Court Judge Linda R. Feinberg granted PSEG Energy Resources & Trade’s motion to intervene on NJDEP’s behalf in an Open Public Records Act suit by investigative reporter Mark Lagerkvist.  PSEG, with $12.4 billion in annual revenues, is the state’s largest publicly-owned utility.

In the suit, Lagerkvist is seeking disclosure of who purchased $102 million worth of CO-2 permits issued by the state and sold at auctions administered by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

“When public assets are sold, the public should have a right to know who bought them,” said Lagerkvist, editor of New Jersey Watchdog.  “The idea that this is none of the public’s business is ridiculous.”

In its brief, PSEG argued that NJDEP and RGGI had assured auction participants that their “confidential corporate business and trade information” and “proprietary” secrets would not be released.  Apparently, those secrets include details about who is buying the public permits.

RGGI allows utilities and outside investors to profiteer at ratepayer expense by speculating on permit prices.  Registered bidders at the auctions have included Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Barclays Bank and others, but exactly who is buying how many permits is kept secret.

Overall, New Jersey and nine other states have sold $860 million in carbon dioxide permits through quarterly auctions administered by RGGI – a mandatory cap-and-trade program that also covers New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland.  Under RGGI, utilities must obtain a permit for each ton of CO-2 their power plants release; they pass along that cost to consumers and businesses through higher rates.

How much extra RGGI is costing New Jersey ratepayers is supposed to be public information, but NJDEP has never released that data.

State statute requires NJDEP to annually review its participation in CO-2 permit auctions, and weigh the environmental and economic impact on electric utilities and its ratepayers.  The report is supposed to be submitted to the Governor and Legislature, plus posted on the agency’s web site, under New Jersey’s 2007 Global Warming Response Act.

“The NJDEP has not yet generated any reports pursuant to N.J.S.A. 26:2C-47c,” the agency stated in its response to a records request by New Jersey Watchdog. “The NJDEP expects to generate a report within the next several months.”

As a result, NJDEP has left elected officials and the public in the dark on the true impact of RGGI on New Jersey consumers and businesses.

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Follow these links to previous New Jersey Watchdog reports on RGGI:

THE SECRETS TEN STATES & WALL STREET DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2010/07/28/cap-trade-scheme-is-clouded-in-secrecy/

NJ WATCHDOG SUES STATE OVER CARBON AUCTION “SECRETS” http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2010/09/06/1016/

WHY RGGI IS FAILING & UNLIKELY TO CUT CO-2 EMISSIONS BEFORE 2030 http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2010/11/17/why-rggi-may-fail-to-impact-co-2-emissions-for-20-years/

NJ WATCHDOG SUES STATE OF $777 MILLION OF AUCTION SECRETS http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2011/01/09/1620/

NEW YORK OFFICIALS RELEASE 2,000 RGGI EMAILS TO NJ WATCHDOG; NEW JERSEY STILL CLAIMS THE RECORDS ARE CONFIDENTIAL  http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2011/02/20/new-york-releases-2000-rggi-emails-new-jersey-still-claims-records-are-confidential/

NOT DEAD YET!  RGGI REBOUNDS WITH $83M CAP & TRADE AUCTION http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2011/03/11/1740/

DEMOCRAT BACKS NEW JERSEY BILL TO REPEAL RGGI CAP & TRADE  http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2011/04/20/democrat-suppo…rggi-cap-trade

PSEG FIGHTS TO KEEP CAP & TRADE RECORDS SECRET  http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2011/04/25/2307

REPORT?  WHAT REPORT?  NJDEP IGNORES GLOBAL WARMING LAW http://newjersey.watchdog.org/2011/05/11/report-what-report-njdep-ignores-its-duty-under-global-warming-law/

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