Six New England senators urged FERC Tuesday to end the New England Power Pool’s ban on public and press attendance at stakeholder meetings.
U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) joined Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) in a letter urging FERC to reject NEPOOL’s proposal to codify its longstanding closed door policy (ER18-2208).
“Residents of New England pay some of the highest electricity rates across the country,” the senators said. “Consumers deserve to be aware of the important decisions that are made that affect their household energy bills and the environment. Such decisions should be transparent and subject to public scrutiny.”
The senators dismissed NEPOOL’s argument that allowing press access would hurt the ability of NEPOOL members to talk candidly, calling it “a claim that is neither supported nor justified. In New England and around the country, it is essential that the deliberation process be kept open to all who are affected by these decisions.”
New England is the only one of the seven U.S. regions served by RTOs or ISOs where the press and public are prohibited from attending stakeholder meetings.
“Although NEPOOL does publicly release documents, including meeting minutes and official records, both in advance and after meetings take place, this cannot be considered a substitute for membership,” the senators said.
They warned that approval of NEPOOL’s proposal “could have significant impact on and set precedent for stakeholder participation in electricity market entities, and not only in New England. Formal exclusion of stakeholders from decision-making in NEPOOL would be in stark contrast to FERC Order 719, which sought to increase and not hinder responsiveness to stakeholders across all RTOs.”
On Sept. 18, a dozen members of the House of Representatives also called on the commission to open the meetings.
Their letter was signed by Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee; Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the committee’s Subcommittee on Energy; Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), the ranking member on the subcommittee; seven of nine members from Massachusetts’ delegation; and one representative each from Rhode Island and Vermont.
Last week, NEPOOL filed a motion to dismiss RTO Insider’s protest seeking to open the meetings, saying FERC lacks jurisdiction to force changes (EL18-196). Other intervenors supported RTO Insider’s request that FERC either force a NEPOOL rule change or strip it of its role as ISO-NE’s stakeholder body. (See NEPOOL: FERC Can’t Change Press, Public Ban.)
— Rich Heidorn Jr.