Maine Supporters Express Worries About Regulatory Procedure for Transmission Initiatives

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Alarm Over New England Utilities’ Transmission Projects Grows

Our sources have shed light on rising concerns regarding the potential abuse of regulatory processes for transmission projects by New England utilities. High-profile individuals including Maine’s public advocate, William Harwood, and his deputy, Andrew Landry, have pointed fingers at these utilities for trying to extract excessive benefits for their shareholders. Support for this standpoint is echoed by the Massachusetts attorney general and ratepayer advocates, who are yearning for stronger regulation. A united call to halt new transmission ventures until the review processes are enhanced is resonating throughout these groups.

In Depth on the Growing Tension

Expected transmission rate increases by New England utilities of around 9% in the approaching year are fueling the escalating tension. These predicted rates are significantly higher than those in comparable regions, and the utilities attribute them to profound investments in asset condition projects. However, these are not viewed as one-time increases as the utilities foresee continual growth in the rates. The lack of oversight over $6.5 billion worth of transmission projects, as highlighted by the Ohio ratepayer advocate, is agitating stakeholders. This mismanagement since 2017 is viewed as a serious issue requiring immediate attention and action.

FERC Commissioner Points at Flaws in the System

The Formula Rate Process, a core part of the regulatory procedures, is under fire from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner Mark Christie. Christie firmly believes that this process masks the actual costs linked to transmission expenses and obstructs an accurate analysis of the situation. Surprisingly, despite this procedure being an ISO-NE requirement, the transmission owners have conveniently sidestepped queries about the carefulness of their investments.

Greater Transparency and Engagement: An Echoing Demand

The necessity and value for money of these transmission projects have been questioned by the office of the Maine ratepayer advocate. The question of whether there are incumbent, less intrusive substitute choices is still up without an answer. The utility companies, in response to these queries, agreed to adopt a commitment to enhance transparency and engage with stakeholders more reliably. Yet, these acknowledgments did not sufficiently confront Maine’s apprehensions concerning the planning practices behind these profilic investments. Hence, the office of the ratepayer advocate has appealed to FERC to force the transmission owners to adequately respond to Maine’s questions. This information would then empower the state to challenge the management costs of the assets in question.

Anna Parker

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