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April 21, 2022

Clean Energy and Consumer Groups Call on FERC to Reject ISO New England’s Proposal to Delay Key Energy Market Reform

FERC must act to correct artificial inflation of clean energy costs in ISO New England

Contacts

Miranda Fox, Earthjustice, (415) 283-2324

Adil Trehan, Sierra Club, (202) 630-7275

Melissa Birchard, Acadia Center, (857) 276-6883

Phelps Turner, Conservation Law Foundation, (207) 210-6439

Boston, MA

Today, 11 New England clean energy and consumer advocacy organizations filed a protest urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject ISO New England’s proposal to delay reforming the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) and require an immediate fix to this anti-competitive rule.

The MOPR artificially inflates the cost of clean energy, giving an advantage to more expensive fossil fuel power plants in ISO-NE’s forward capacity market. The rule has extended the life of highly-polluting, uneconomical plants and incentivized continued investment in fossil fuel infrastructure while preventing affordable, clean energy from entering the market. As a result, the MOPR imposes higher electricity costs on customers and perpetuates air pollution in historically impacted fenceline communities across New England. The rule also undercuts New England states’ efforts to address the threat of climate change by decarbonizing the electric grid.

"The latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report warns that we are running out of time to prevent the worst of the climate crisis. New England's grid operator is making it harder for the region to power our homes, businesses, and transportation with clean energy. We're asking FERC to stand up for what New England residents have already demanded: a clean grid powered by renewable solar and wind and freedom from polluting fossil fuels,” said Danielle Fidler, Earthjustice senior attorney.

“FERC has an obligation to immediately fix ISO New England’s Minimum Offer Price Rule,” said Hannah Birnbaum, Sierra Club Northeast Deputy Director of Energy Campaigns. “The rule has needlessly increased electricity bills and stifled job growth in clean energy for years. Fenceline communities are facing dirty air and long-term health risks because the MOPR protects uneconomic fossil fuel plants that would have otherwise retired long ago. The economic and health costs of keeping the MOPR in place for two more years are unjustifiable. We can’t allow the fossil fuel industry to get in the way of making responsible and cost-effective improvements to our energy system.”

“New England’s residents are demanding clean energy. So why is the region’s grid operator trying to put up roadblocks and delays to this transition?” said Bruce Ho of the Sustainable FERC Project at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “FERC needs to step in and ensure clean solar and wind power get a chance to compete in New England’s electricity capacity market — and that they get that chance today, not in 2025.”

“ISO New England promised the New England states and the public to eliminate the discriminatory MOPR rule in the next capacity auction and then backed out of that promise at the last moment,” said Melissa Birchard, Director of Clean Energy and Grid Reform at Acadia Center. “FERC should hold ISO New England to its original proposal — vetted by stakeholders over the course of more than 12 meetings — to eliminate the MOPR now, without delay. Every excuse not to reform the markets to let clean energy compete fairly now puts our children and communities at greater risk from pollution and the climate emergency.”

“The climate crisis is threatening our health and safety as we speak. Nearly every New England state has climate laws that require slashing polluting emissions, and clean energy sources like wind and solar are the keys to reaching these goals,” said Conservation Law Foundation Senior Attorney Phelps Turner. “But ISO New England’s attempt to keep the Minimum Offer Price Rule on the books prevents electricity from these sources from being delivered into our homes. ISO’s decision to keep this rule alive for two more years allows polluting fossil fuel plants to keep running, costs electricity customers millions of dollars, and creates a major roadblock to safeguarding a livable world in the face of climate change. The rule cannot be allowed to stand.”

“ISO’s administratively set pricing floor creates a bias in favor of existing resources and is slowing the transition to a cleaner grid at great expense to consumers. The ISO has simply not justified its proposal to delay the elimination of this artificial barrier,” said Francis Pullaro, executive director of RENEW Northeast.

​​“Competitive energy markets are essential to ensuring cost-effective and reliable electricity,” said Jolette Westbrook, director and senior attorney, Energy Markets & Regulation at Environmental Defense Fund. “Unfortunately, ISO New England’s proposal moves the region in the wrong direction, accomplishing little to improve reliability, delaying the deployment of renewable energy and increasing costs for electricity customers. Market barriers must be eliminated for New England to get the reliable, affordable and clean electricity it deserves.”

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