Ontario's first cap-and-trade auction sells out current allowances

TORONTO - Ontario's first cap-and-trade auction has sold out all current allowances.

The system aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions requires certain electricity importers, natural gas distributors and fuel suppliers to participate.

They have caps on the amount of pollution they can emit and if they exceed those limits, they must buy an equal number credits _ or allowances _ at auction or from other companies that come in under their limits.

Results released today from the March 22 auction show that all current allowances were sold.

The government says the auction brought in $472 million.

The provincial Liberal government hopes the quarterly auctions will bring in $1.9 billion a year, to be invested in programs that reduce emissions and help businesses and consumers adapt to a low-carbon economy.

Most large emitters in Ontario will receive allowances for free until 2020, which the government says is meant to prevent them from moving to jurisdictions without carbon pricing.

Since Jan. 1, cap and trade has added 4.3 cents per litre to the price of gasoline and about $80 a year to natural gas home heating costs, in addition to indirect costs that will be passed onto consumers.