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Allowance Allocation in a CO2 Emissions Cap-and-Trade Program for the Electricity Sector in California


  • Palmer, Karen

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Burtraw, Dallas

    () (Resources for the Future)

  • Paul, Anthony

    () (Resources for the Future)


The regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from the electricity sector within a cap-and-trade system poses significant policy questions about how to allocate tradable emission allowances. Allocation conveys tremendous value and can have efficiency consequences. This research uses simulation modeling for the electricity sector to examine different approaches to allocation under a cap-and-trade program in California. The decision affects prices and other aspects of the electricity sector, as well as implications for the overall cost of climate policy. An important issue is the opportunity for emission reductions in California to be offset by emission increases in neighboring regions that supply electricity to the state. The amount of emission leakage (i.e. an increase in CO2 emissions outside of California as a result of the program) varies with the regulatory design of the program.

Suggested Citation

  • Palmer, Karen & Burtraw, Dallas & Paul, Anthony, 2009. "Allowance Allocation in a CO2 Emissions Cap-and-Trade Program for the Electricity Sector in California," Discussion Papers dp-09-41, Resources For the Future.
  • Handle: RePEc:rff:dpaper:dp-09-41

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. M. Ali Khan, 2007. "Perfect Competition," PIDE-Working Papers 2007:15, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics.
    2. Goulder, Lawrence H. & Parry, Ian W. H. & Williams III, Roberton C. & Burtraw, Dallas, 1999. "The cost-effectiveness of alternative instruments for environmental protection in a second-best setting," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 72(3), pages 329-360, June.
    3. Burtraw, Dallas & Pizer, William & Harrington, Winston & Sanchirico, James & Newell, Richard, 2005. "Modeling Economywide versus Sectoral Climate Policies Using Combined Aggregate-Sectoral Models," Discussion Papers dp-05-08, Resources For the Future.
    4. Palmer, Karen & Burtraw, Dallas, 2005. "Cost-effectiveness of renewable electricity policies," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 873-894, November.
    5. Paul, Anthony & Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen, 2008. "Compensation for Electricity Consumers Under a U.S. CO2 Emissions Cap," Discussion Papers dp-08-25, Resources For the Future.
    6. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Kahn, Daniel, 2005. "Allocation of CO2 Emissions Allowances in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Cap-and-Trade Program," Discussion Papers dp-05-25, Resources For the Future.
    7. Ruth, Matthias & Gabriel, Steven A. & Palmer, Karen L. & Burtraw, Dallas & Paul, Anthony & Chen, Yihsu & Hobbs, Benjamin F. & Irani, Daraius & Michael, Jeffrey & Ross, Kim M. & Conklin, Russell & Mill, 2008. "Economic and energy impacts from participation in the regional greenhouse gas initiative: A case study of the State of Maryland," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 36(6), pages 2279-2289, June.
    8. Chen, Yihsu, 2009. "Does a regional greenhouse gas policy make sense? A case study of carbon leakage and emissions spillover," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 667-675, September.
    9. Parry, Ian W. H., 1997. "Environmental taxes and quotas in the presence of distorting taxes in factor markets," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 203-220, August.
    10. Bushnell, James & Wolfram, Catherine, 2008. "Electricity Markets," Staff General Research Papers Archive 31547, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
    11. Burtraw, Dallas & Palmer, Karen & Bharvirkar, Ranjit & Paul, Anthony, 2001. "The Effect of Allowance Allocation on the Cost of Carbon Emission Trading," Discussion Papers dp-01-30-, Resources For the Future.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hobbs, Benjamin F. & Bushnell, James & Wolak, Frank A., 2010. "Upstream vs. downstream CO2 trading: A comparison for the electricity context," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 3632-3643, July.

    More about this item


    cap-and-trade; electricity generation; electricity sector; emissions; regulation; governance; allocation; California;

    JEL classification:

    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q25 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Water
    • Q4 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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