Consumer Liaison Group discussed the evolution of New England’s wholesale electricity markets at March 2018 meeting

The Consumer Liaison Group held its first meeting of the year on March 1, 2018 in New Castle, New Hampshire. Michael Giaimo, Commissioner at the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission, opened the meeting with reflections and observations on the CLG and the regional power system over the past decade. The meeting also featuring a panel discussion on the topic, How Have the Region’s Wholesale Electricity Markets Evolved Over Time? Why Should Consumers Care?, as well as an update from ISO New England.

Keynote Address

Giaimo (pictured right) said that the wholesale markets have benefitted the region as a whole, and that those markets and the six states’ public policies have changed the region’s resource mix. A key reason the region restructured was to empower consumers, he said, and that competitive markets have also resulted in billions of dollars being invested in New England and shielded ratepayers from bad investment decisions. Giaimo praised the CLG for its broad reach and many notable speakers.

Panel Discussion

All presentations can be found on the CLG webpage.

  • Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford), Chairman, Ways and Means Committee, New Hampshire State Senate, said that the majority of people’s business challenges originate with elected officials, and he encouraged those in attendance to engage in the legislative process so their needs are better addressed. Also, he cautioned energy developers against trying to use eminent domain to build their projects.
  • Carl Gustin Senior Advisor, Salient Point LLC, discussed the ways the electric system will need to change in order to meet the carbon reduction goals of the New England states. As state officials attempt to find ways to achieve their carbon reduction goals, he said that utilities are well suited to invest in renewable energy because of their access to private capital and their relationships with consumers.
  • Jonathan Peress Senior Director, Energy Market Policy, Environmental Defense Fund, noted that environmental concerns often go hand-in-hand with the needs of consumers. He said that the natural gas markets lack transparency, do not value variability, and are structured in a way that do not allow for an efficient buildout of infrastructure to serve natural-gas fired generators.
  • Tanya Bodell Executive Director, Energyz, said that energy prices are significantly lower than twenty years ago, but retail prices have increased. She said the New England states will not be able to reach their carbon-reduction goals without addressing the heating and transportation sectors. She said that markets are working, and changing technologies will change the operation of energy resources.

ISO New England Update

ISO New England reviewed highlights of the CLG annual report, the 2018 Regional Electricity Outlook and several recent ISO reports. The ISO also shared the key findings in its Operational Fuel Security Analysis, the results of the recent Forward Capacity Auction, and an analysis of wholesale market costs.

2018 Meeting Dates and Locations
Subsequent 2018 meetings are scheduled for June 14, September 20, and December 6 at locations to be announced. The CLG Coordinating Committee has three main goals for 2018:

  1. Send post-meeting emails to the CLG distribution list providing a summary of the meeting and links to all the meeting materials
  2. Explore different ways for the CLG to create additional opportunities for members of the CLG to talk more directly with ISO New England staff; and
  3. Enhance the group’s social media presence using its new Twitter handle. The CLG can be followed on Twitter at @CLG_NE.
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