HOUSE PASSES KENNEDY ENERGY BILL
Washington, D.C. – As energy consumers across Massachusetts face proposed rate increases, Congressman Joe Kennedy III today applauded bipartisan passage of his Fair RATES Act in the U.S. House of Representatives. By providing a technical fix to the Federal Power Act, the Fair Ratepayer Accountability, Transparency, and Efficiency Standards (Fair RATES) Act will increase transparency and accountability in the regulatory process by ensuring consumers can legally challenge proposed rate increases.
Passage of Kennedy’s bill comes as New England prepares for its annual energy price-setting auction in two weeks. Kennedy has voiced concerns that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is charged with approving the new rates, is now missing two commissioners.
“For decades, a flawed system for pricing energy has left consumers, families and businesses across New England holding the bag,” said 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.”
“We need to ensure that consumers in New England are fully protected from potential unjust increases in energy rates,” said Senator Edward J. 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.”
In New England, a portion of energy prices are set several years in advance through a process known as a ‘forward capacity auction,’ with the goal to guarantee there will be enough supply to meet projected demand. The results of these auctions require approval from FERC. Over the past three years, these ‘capacity payments,’ payments from ratepayers to generation companies to guarantee supply of the necessary electricity, have risen dramatically. These increased capacity payments will further saddle families and businesses across the region in the coming years. Kennedy’s bill would fix a technical flaw in the current regulatory process that denies consumers both an administrative and legal avenue to dispute rate increases in certain circumstances. Senator Edward J. Markey will introduce a companion version of the bill in the United States Senate.
Congressman Kennedy has been a vocal critic of New England’s energy auctions since taking office. After the FERC deadlocked when reviewing the rates from FCA8 which tripled the capacity rates consumers will begin paying this year, Kennedy and Markey led their New England colleagues in urging the Commission to carefully examine the capacity shortfall. They also wrote a letter to President Obama highlighting the vacancy at FERC that limits the commission’s ability to rule whether rates are just and reasonable.
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For Immediate Release:
January 23, 2017
Emily Kaufman (617) 332-3333
Dan Black (202) 225-5931
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