Cap-and-invest auctions and market

Businesses that are covered under the Climate Commitment Act must obtain compliance instruments equal to their covered emissions each year. Each instrument (emissions allowance or offset credit) is equal to one metric ton of greenhouse gases.

Allowances are issued by Ecology and either given to certain businesses for free, as directed by the law, or sold at quarterly auction. Allowances can be used for compliance, saved to use in a future year, or traded between market participants (just like stocks and bonds).


Auction timeline for 2024

Below, you'll find an interactive graphic illustrating the timeline for all four quarterly auctions in 2024, as well as the reports we issue after each auction detailing settlement price, number of allowances sold, and other information. This graphic also includes information about triggered and potential Allowance Price Containment Reserve auctions. We will update this graphic each year.

To download a static PDF of all 2024 auction dates in chronological order, click the link in the caption below.

The first page of this graphic is a legend to help you understand the different auction events throughout the year. You can click the right-facing arrow below the image to see the rest of the timeline, and hover over any item to see the exact date and event explanation. To download a PDF version of this timeline with all dates displayed in chronological order for the entire year, click here.

Cap-and-invest help desks

For any other questions about the cap-and-invest program, or for media requests, please direct inquires to the point of contact found at the bottom of this page.

Auctions FAQ 

In December 2021, Washington joined the Western Climate Initiative, Inc. (WCI), the nonprofit that provides the auction platform for the linked programs in California and Québec, as well as the stand-alone program in Nova Scotia.

We held our first auction on Feb. 28, 2023, and will hold four quarterly auctions each year. You can find more information about how auctions work below. Information about upcoming auctions and past auction results can be found at the bottom of the page under the 'Notices and reports' tabs.


Allowance Price Containment Reserve (APCR) FAQ

The APCR is a separate pool of allowances that can be released into the market when increased demand at a quarterly auction pushes prices above a certain level. This mechanism is designed to ensure businesses can obtain allowances at sustainable, pre-determined prices.

APCR Auctions are only open to businesses and entities that are required to obtain allowances to cover their emissions under the program (‘covered’ or ‘opt-in entities’). APCR auctions are not open to investors or other entities without a compliance obligation (‘general market participants’).

APCR allowances can only be used to cover emissions, they can’t be sold or traded among market participants to generate revenue.


Program compliance

The cap-and-invest program employs a staggered compliance structure to allow businesses flexibility in determining the most effective compliance strategy for their operations. This could include obtaining allowances or offset credits, investing in cleaner technologies and energy sources, or a combination of both.

Over the course of each four-year compliance period, businesses must submit allowances or offset credits ('instruments') equal to their covered emissions.

Compliance schedule

By Nov. 1 of each year, participants must submit compliance instruments equal to 30% of their emissions for the prior year.

  • These smaller compliance deadlines require that submitted allowances be of the same year as the emissions being covered, or an earlier year. 

By Nov.1 of the year following the end of a four-year compliance period, businesses must submit instruments to cover the remaining 70% of their total emissions for the entire period.

  • This compliance deadline is aggregate, meaning that emissions from all four years are considered as a group, and submitted allowances can be of any year in the current or previous compliance periods.

2023-2026 schedule and vintage requirements

  • Nov. 1, 2024: 30% of 2023 emissions
    • Required vintage: 2023
  • Nov. 1, 2025: 30% of 2024 emissions
    • Required vintage: 2023-2024
  • Nov. 1, 2026: 30% of 2025 emissions
    • Required vintage: 2023-2025
  • Nov. 1, 2027: 30% of 2026 emissions
    • Required vintage: 2023-2026
  • Nov. 1, 2027: Remaining 70% of all 2023-2026 emissions
    • Allowances can be of any year in the compliance period, 2023-2026. 

Please note: Allowances from the APCR and offset credits can be used to cover emissions from any year, in addition to regular allowances as outlined above. 

Notices and reports

Starting in 2023, we'll host four auctions a year, each consisting of a single round of bidding by auction participants. We'll announce the dates of upcoming auctions at least 60 days in advance on our webpage and to subscribers of the auctions and market updates email list.

2024 Auction Notices

2024 Annual Notices

After each quarterly auction, we will post an Auction Summary Report outlining information about the settlement price and number of allowances sold. A few weeks later, we'll also post a Public Proceeds Report confirming the amount of revenue raised by the auction and a rolling tally of all auction proceeds since the beginning of the program on Jan. 1, 2023.

We also publish reports on different aspects of auctions and market participation, which will be included here for the current year. For previous reports, we maintain an archive of all cap-and-invest auction and market reports.

Auction reports

Other market reports

You can also sign up to receive auction and trading updates via email to be notified when we issue these reports.

Electric Utilities (2023-2026)

Natural Gas Utilities (2023-2026)

EITEs