Legislation would ensure ratepayers could protest a rate change filed with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
Washington (January 25, 2017) – As New England prepares for an upcoming energy auction that will impact future energy prices, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) reintroduced the Fair Ratepayer, Accountability, Transparency and Efficiency Standards (RATES) Act. The legislation would ensure that consumers can protest any energy rate change filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The general public has an avenue to protest a rate change filed with FERC through the Federal Power Act (FPA), which allows new rate changes to take effect if FERC approves them or fails to issue an order either approving or denying filed rates. However, if a vacancy on the Commission leads it to be deadlocked, rate decisions become effective by operation of law even though they are not approved by a majority of commissioners, thereby depriving the public of its ability to challenge decisions because FERC did not issue an official order. The Fair RATES Act would fix this situation by stating that a rate change that becomes effective by operation of law is the equivalent of FERC issuing an order.
Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) are original co-sponsors of the legislation. The House of Representatives this week passed companion legislation introduced by Congressman Joe Kennedy (MA-09).
“We need to ensure that consumers in New England are fully protected from potential unjust increases in energy rates,” said Senator Markey. “The Fair RATES Act would help guarantee that consumers always have the ability to challenge proposals to increase their energy rates. I look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Kennedy to enact this legislation into law and fight to protect ratepayers in Massachusetts and our region.”
“For decades, a flawed system for pricing energy has left consumers, families and businesses across New England holding the bag,” said Rep. Kennedy. “In just two weeks we face another energy auction to determine future prices and, once again, we have a regulatory body – FERC – unequipped to fairly oversee the process. This bill would address an unjust flaw in existing law that has silenced consumer voices in the past and threatens to silence them again. I look forward to continuing to partner with Senator Markey as he advocates for this legislation in the Senate and as we work together to bring it to the President’s desk.”
A copy of the Fair RATES Act can be found HERE.