Lawmakers urge action as regulators prepare for energy auction that will set future rates across New England
Massachusetts – As consumers and businesses across New England continue to battle record-high energy costs, Senator Edward J. Markey and Congressman Joe Kennedy III today increased pressure on federal regulators to reevaluate current and future energy prices across the region. The officials’ request comes as New England prepares for its yearly energy auction process that sets rates across the region several years into the future. It also follows recent confirmation of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) fifth commissioner, Colette Honorable.
In a letter sent to FERC today, signed by 19 members of the New England Congressional Delegation, the lawmakers reiterated concerns about shortcomings in the auction process and its impact on ratepayers. They wrote: “The continued increase of rates across the New England region is alarming, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) inability to conclusively rule on the results of the February 2014 Forward Capacity Auction Eight (FCA8) failed to address the drastic rate increases for ratepayers. Now that FERC can benefit from the counsel and participation of all five members, we urge the Commission to reevaluate the FCA8 rates pursuant to the Federal Power Act.”
Kennedy first raised concerns after last year’s energy auction (“FCA8”) produced the first-ever projected capacity shortfall for the region, spelling out continued rate increases for New England consumers. After originally declaring the results of FCA8 ‘deficient’ and requesting more information from ISO-New England, FERC failed to take conclusive action last year. With only four commissioners in place at the time, FERC effectively deadlocked over the issue, causing the auction results to automatically take effect last September.
In October, Markey and Kennedy called FERC’s failure to decisively weigh in on the auction results and subsequent rate hikes unacceptable and demanded the agency reevaluate FCA8. To date, the agency has refused to take additional action. In their letter today, Markey, Kennedy and the New England Congressional Delegation outlined the agency’s legal authority to revisit the results, highlighted the recent confirmation of a fifth FERC Commissioner to prevent deadlock, and urged the agency to approach the upcoming 2015 auction with New England ratepayers in mind.
“With FCA9 scheduled to take place on February 2, 2015, we ask that the Commission closely monitor the upcoming auction and consider the impact of rate prices on consumers in deciding whether to certify the results later this year. We stand ready to work with you to uphold the Commission’s mission to protect reliable, efficient, and sustainable energy at a reasonable cost for consumers,” wrote the lawmakers today.
In addition to Kennedy and Markey, the letter was signed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), Senator Jack Reed (RI), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Senator Richard Blumenthal (CT), Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA), Rep. Bill Keating (MA), Rep. Richard Neal (MA), Rep. Mike Capuano (MA), Rep. Seth Moulton (MA), Rep. Katherine Clark (MA), Rep. Jim McGovern (MA), Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA), Rep. Jim Langevin (RI), Rep. David Cicilline (RI), Rep Frank Guinta (NH) and Rep Peter Welch (VT). For a copy of the full letter, please click here.For a copy of the delegation’s letter last fall, click here.
For a copy of Congressman Kennedy’s first letter regarding the results of FCA8 and the closure of Brayton Point in Somerset, Mass, please click here.