Monday, March 18, 2019

RTO Insider Reporter Admitted to NEPOOL

But Bylaws Bar Disclosures of Meetings

The New England Power Pool voted Wednesday to admit RTO Insider correspondent Michael Kuser as an End User member under strict rules that prevent him from reporting publicly on what he hears in meetings.

The organization acted in response to FERC’s Jan. 29 order ruling that it has jurisdiction over NEPOOL’s membership rules and that barring journalists from joining was unduly discriminatory (ER18-2208-001). NEPOOL asked FERC to reconsider the order last month. (See NEPOOL Seeks Rehearing on Press Ban Order.)

Many of NEPOOL’s meetings are held at the Westborough, Mass., DoubleTree Hotel. | Google

The stakeholder group had sought to amend the NEPOOL Agreement to bar members of the press from joining after Kuser, an electric ratepayer in Vermont, applied to join in March 2018.

In its vote Wednesday, NEPOOL’s Participants Committee conditioned Kuser’s admission on compliance with its bylaws, which were rewritten in June 2018 in response to his application.

NEPOOL said the revisions were intended to codify a longstanding practice barring disclosure of meeting proceedings to nonmembers. But they also appear to carve out an exception for members who are not members of the press.

Section 5.6(a)(ii) states that:

“Attendees may use the information received in discussion, and may share the information received within their respective organizations or with those they represent, provided those who receive such communications are not press and also are aware of and agree to respect the nonpublic nature of the information. In no event may attendees reveal publicly the identity or the affiliation (other than sector affiliation) of those participating in meeting discussions…”

Members who violate the provision, the bylaws state, will have their attendance privileges revoked.

FERC’s January order said it would rule separately on RTO Insider’s complaint asking the commission to terminate the group’s stakeholder role or direct ISO-NE to adopt an open stakeholder process like those used by other RTOs (EL18-196). 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 or discussing them publicly.

RTO’s Interim Winter Fuel Proposal Rejected

In other action Wednesday, NEPOOL stakeholders rejected ISO-NE’s interim proposal for compensating generators for maintaining fuel inventories during winter.

The proposal, which would cover capacity commitment period 14 (2023/24) and 15 (2024/25), received less than 33% vote in favor, with most support from the Generation, Transmission and Publicly Owned sectors.

Members also rejected a proposal by energy services firm Energy New England that would have limited compensation to oil and certain natural gas, demand response and electric storage resources. It failed with less than 40% support, with most backing from the Supplier, Publicly Owned and End User sectors.

The votes were no surprise: Both proposals also fell short at NEPOOL’s Markets Committee last week. However, an ISO-NE spokeswoman said the RTO would be filing its proposal with FERC regardless of the outcome of the stakeholders’ votes. (See ISO-NE Steady on Fuel Plan Despite NEPOOL Rebuff.)

ISO-NE’s plan is intended to prevent otherwise economic resources from retiring because they are not fully compensated for their winter energy security attributes. The RTO describes it as an interim measure until it completes development of a market-based compensation scheme for energy security.

The Participants Committee agenda had teed up a potential vote on proposals concerning the treatment of energy efficiency resources under the Pay-for-Performance capacity rules. However, no motion was made on the issue, according to NEPOOL.

At last week’s Markets Committee meeting, members had rejected a proposal by the New England Power Generators Association to address a disconnect in the calculation of PfP penalties during scarcity conditions in off-peak hours.

— Rich Heidorn Jr.

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