Progress Report

Market Activity

Market Activity Figures

Last updated: 05/2018

Related Figures

2015 Allowance Transfers under CSAPR and ARP
Allowance Spot Price (Prompt Vintage), January – December 2015


Transaction Types and Volumes

  • In 2016, more than 1,000,000 allowances were traded across all four of the CSAPR trading programs. Just under one-third of the transactions within the CSAPR programs were between distinct organizations.
  • In 2016, over 2 million ARP allowances were traded, the majority (82 percent) between related organizations.

2016 Allowance Prices1

  • ARP SO₂ allowance prices averaged less than $1 per ton in 2016.
  • CSAPR SO₂ Group 1 allowance prices started 2016 at $2.75 per ton and ended 2016 at $5.25 per ton.
  • CSAPR SO₂ Group 2 allowance prices started 2016 at $5 per ton and ended 2016 at $5.25 per ton.
  • CSAPR NOₓ annual program allowances started 2016 at $80 per ton and ended 2016 at $6 per ton.
  • CSAPR NOₓ ozone season program allowances started 2016 at $182.5 per ton and ended 2016 at $142.5 per ton.2

Analysis and Background Information

Transaction Types and Volumes

Allowance transfer activity includes two types of transfers: EPA transfers to accounts and private transactions. EPA transfers to accounts include the initial allocation of allowances by states or EPA, as well as transfers into accounts related to set-asides. This category does not include transfers due to allowance retirements. Private transactions include all transfers initiated by authorized account representatives for any compliance or general account purposes.

To better understand the trends in market performance and transfer history, EPA classifies private transfers of allowance transactions into two categories:

  • Transfers between separate and unrelated parties (distinct organizations), which may include companies with contractual relationships (such as power purchase agreements), but excludes parent-subsidiary types of relationships.
  • Transfers within a company or between related entities (e.g., holding company transfers between a facility compliance account and any account held by a company with an ownership interest in the facility).

While all transactions are important to proper market operation, EPA follows trends in transactions between distinct economic entities with particular interest. These transactions represent an actual exchange of assets between unaffiliated participants, which reflect companies making the most of the cost-minimizing flexibility of emission trading programs by finding the cheapest emission reductions not only among their own generating assets, but across the entire marketplace of power generators.

Allowance Markets

The 2016 emissions were below emission budgets for the Acid Rain Program (ARP) and for all four Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) programs. As a result, CSAPR allowance prices were well below the marginal cost for reductions projected at the time of the final rule, and are subject, in part, to downward pressure from the available banks of allowances.

More Information


  1. Allowance prices as reported by SNL Finance, 2017.
  2. These prices reflect CSAPR ozone season NOₓ allowances. In October 2016, EPA published an update to the CSAPR ozone season allowance trading programs. On October 23rd, 2017, CSAPR most ozone season NOₓ allowances were converted to CSAPR Update ozone season NOₓ allowances.