House again passes Kennedy’s energy rates bill
The House revoted and passed the Fair RATES Act that U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has pushed for more than a year, which would give consumers certain rights to appeal the setting of energy rates.
“For decades, a flawed system for pricing energy has left consumers, families and businesses across New England holding the bag,” Kennedy said after the unanimous voice vote without dissent on Monday.
The House passed the Kennedy version last March, but since it did not become law in the last congressional session, it required re-voting, Kennedy’s office said.
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, who along with many New England legislators has protested the law’s fairness and access, planned on Tuesday to introduce the companion Senate version.
The Fair Ratepayer Accountability, Transparency, and Efficiency Standards Act addresses “an unjust flaw in existing law,” Kennedy said in a press statement.
For this region, it pertains to the Forward Capacity Auctions, which ISO New England holds annually to determine electricity rates three years in advance.
The results of those auctions, recommended by ISO-NE, go for approval to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, established by federal law for five members.
In February 2013, FERC had four members and deadlocked 2-2 on whether to approve results of Forward Capacity Auction 8.
That was the first auction at which former owners of Brayton Point Power Station – one of New England’s largest power plants, producing up to 1,500 megawatts – declined to supply future capacity and announced that by May 31, 2017, it would close the plant on Mount Hope Bay.
Brayton Point’s status remains unchanged.
New England’s electricity rates – which are among the highest in the country – subsequently went into effect “by operation of law.” The result left consumers, governmental agencies and others with no recourse to appeal for a re-hearing.
The FAIR Rates Act would fix that, Kennedy said.