Roundtable Advises that Uniform Federal Data and Voluntary Standards are Needed to Avoid State, City “Patchwork” of Carbon Pricing Protocols
The growing number of state and local mandates to reduce GHG emissions and increase renewable energy supplies are driving the need for uniform and voluntary federal-level practices to measure and price carbon, The Roundtable advised in comments submitted on Tuesday.
- Commercial real estate stakeholders are paying increased attention to their “energy supply chain” and need to know “where the electricity they purchase derives from,” The Roundtable wrote in a Nov. 10 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
- This is because dozens of state and city laws are setting energy measurement, reduction, and emissions targets on buildings, and imposing renewable energy “portfolio standards” that require greater power supplies from solar, wind, and other carbon-free sources.
- These state and local mandates have “effectively forced the issue – throughout the United States – that carbon emissions are an economic liability, and carbon reductions are an economic asset,” the letter explains. Environmental demands from investors, tenants, employee talent, and other audiences also impel real estate owners to voluntarily purchase “clean” power and “offset” carbon emissions.
- While FERC itself lacks authority from Congress to set a price on carbon, within the Commission’s sphere of regulating bulk electricity sales in “wholesale markets” it can play a “vital role to help facilitate a harmonious nationwide system of standards relating to carbon measurement and pricing,” the comment letter provides.
- The Roundtable’s Sustainability Policy Advisory Committee (SPAC) – chaired by Tony Malkin (Chairman, President and CEO, Empire State Realty Trust), above left, and vice-chaired by Dan Egan (Senior Vice President, Vornado Realty Trust), right, – directed the course of the comments, which also provides:
- FERC should encourage jurisdictions to rely on federal data provided by power plants and managed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – known as “eGRID” – as the unifying information source to measure how combustion of various fuels used across the country contribute to GHG emissions;
- Federal measurement standards can support “the types of long-term price signals that our energy future demands,” and minimize a confusing a “hodgepodge” in emerging state and regional markets that already treat carbon as a commodity (such as through the purchase of renewable energy certificates (RECs));
- Any government revenue raised by state-level carbon pricing regimes should be returned to commercial, residential, and other consumers to help defray their energy costs. Sums from any such “carbon dividend” should also be channeled to create jobs by modernizing energy infrastructure and electrifying the grid.
“The SPAC has been hard at work for years on real estate related topics around energy production, distribution, consumption, and pricing that now are front and center,” Malkin said. “Our members can be comfortable that they have excellent representation and access to information, that RER is on its front foot here, and that representation on SPAC by our members is critical to their ability to get the best information and have the opportunity to help inform The Roundtable’s actions."
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