Washington (February 9, 2017) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III (MA-04) responded to the results of Independent System Operator - New England’s (ISO-NE) eleventh Forward Capacity Auction (FCA 11) for electricity generating capacity in the region in the coming years. While the total cost to consumers of this most recent auction has dropped to $2.4 billion, down from roughly $3 billion for last year’s auction, these prices remain significantly higher than the roughly $1 billion total value of the auctions a few years ago. In addition, Senator Markey and Rep. Kennedy continued to highlight the paucity of renewable energy resources that have pledged to come online as part of these auctions – only six new megawatts of wind and five new megawatts of solar cleared as part of FCA 11. Finally, the recently created lack of a quorum at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the federal agency responsible for approving the results of the auction and hearing challenges, will make it impossible for consumers to appeal any rate changes that result from the auction because it will be unable to review the results. ISO New England has said it will still move forward while FERC addresses the lack of quorum.
“While it is encouraging that the costs New England consumers will be asked to pay to secure electricity generation are finally declining in recent auctions, I still have significant concerns with the overall level of these costs and what ratepayers are getting in return,” said Senator Markey. “I believe that ISO-NE should take additional steps to ensure that we are diversifying our electricity generation in New England and bringing more wind, solar and other renewable energy online. With FERC now lacking the quorum required to conduct its business, I remain concerned that any consumer challenges to these results may not be properly heard.”
“While the overall cost of the auction reflects a decrease over the last several auctions, ratepayers across New England remain saddled with over $10 billion in coming payments to electric generators for a promise to keep the lights on years down the road,” said Congressman Kennedy. “The results of this auction failed to incent significant future development of renewable energy assets, and I am particularly concerned that failure to delay filing these rates will leave federal regulators unequipped and legally unable to oversee the auction results. Once again, New England ratepayers will be left voiceless.”
Senator Markey and Congressman Kennedy have introduced legislation in the U.S. Senate and House, “The Fair Ratepayer, Accountability, Transparency and Efficiency Standards (FAIR RATES) Act”, which would ensure that consumers always have an ability to appeal energy rate decisions at FERC. Rep. Kennedy’s Fair RATES Act passed the House unanimously on January 23, 2017.