WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today held its seventh hearing as part of the committee’s ongoing ‘Powering America’ series. Today, #SubEnergy examined the role consumer advocates play in electricity markets and explored end-user concerns, including whether or not markets are delivering benefits to consumers, the cost of electricity, and whether the average ratepayer or public-interest organization can effectively participate in the market design processes.
“Today’s Powering America hearing turns our focus to the people and organizations who advocate on behalf of the nation’s electricity consumers. Whether the consumer is a larger purchaser of electricity, such as Walmart, or one of the millions of households that take service from a local electric company, there are individuals working behind the scenes to advocate and represent the interests of utility consumers,” said Chairman Upton.
Witnesses listen as members deliver opening statements
Dr. Joseph Bowring, President of Monitoring Analytics, spoke to the effectiveness of the PJM markets in providing low-cost electricity to consumers, stating, “The goal of competition in the wholesale power markets is to provide customers wholesale power at the least possible price, but no lower. The PJM markets work. The PJM markets bring customers the benefits of competition. … There is no reason to intervene in the markets in order to provide reliability and resilience… If PJM or FERC or DOE identify a need for greater reliability, it can be addressed using market mechanisms.”
Rebecca Tepper, Chairman of the Consumer Liaison Group (CLG) for the ISO New England Region, offered suggestions to improve the consumer representation in the RTO stakeholder process, commenting, “First, establish a program like the CLG that serves a broad range of customers through educational opportunities and access to RTO representatives and consumer-related data…Second, establish a stable funding mechanism that enables all state consumer advocates to fully participate in the RTO stakeholder process…Third, require all RTOs to consider costs in their decision-making and provide cost impact analyses (including retail bill impacts) on all major proposals and reasonable alternatives offered by stakeholders… Fourth, increase communications between RTO Boards and consumers.”
John Hughes, President and CEO of the Electricity Consumers Resource Council (ELCON), discussed the importance of technology-neutral regulations, stating, “ELCON believes that FERC’s regulations and policies should remain neutral with respect to the types of technologies and fuels employed by the utility industry to generate electricity. FERC must not pick winners and losers. We believe that only the most cost effective resources should be planned and operated, consistent with existing environmental and siting laws and regulations, and NERC reliability standards.”
“I recognize that we’re dealing with very complicated markets and the average consumer is going to leave it to today’s panel of witnesses to sort through the details and ramifications of the various market design and rate proposals,” concluded Chairman Upton. “That’s all the more reason why I want to make sure that the interests of consumers are adequately represented in the electricity markets. If those views are represented, I am confident that the markets will deliver benefits to all consumers, large and small.”
For more information on today’s hearing including a background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast, click HERE.
For more information on the committee’s ‘Powering America’ series, click HERE.