ISO Gives in to Gas Companies, Gives Solar and Wind the Brush-off

Profits Before Saving the Plant, Business as Usual at ISO-NE


What is ISO New England?

The sixteen gas companies who form the New England Power Generators Association (NEPGA) are working in lock step with the outgoing Baker Administration and the New England electric grid coordinator to embed fracked natural gas in our future – damn the climate change, profits ahead!

What ISO Did

The most obnoxious because the most in-your-face of the moves is ISO-NE’s about face on changing the MOPR rule, a little piece of bureaucratic fluff it has been misinterpreting for years in order to block solar and wind projects from selling their electricity through the electric grid. Last fall, ISO management told everyone it was reviewing the MOPR and would revise it early in 2022. However, a last-minute meeting with NEPGA executives changed their minds. In early February, ISO announced that it was postponing any changes in the MOPR part of its Futures bidding process until 2025.

This is a big deal because building power plants is a long-term process. A wind farm that receives an ISO contract in 2025 has to get permits, get financing, and finally install the turbines. The likely start date for clean wind power in that scenario is 2028, six years from now. The Fix the Grid campaign immediately reacted by proposing a March 16 rally and asking Massachusetts’ two Senators to complain to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

Why the FERC? It is the federal regulatory agency that has to OK regulation changes by the ten or so ISO agencies around the country. With three Democrats and two Republicans thanks to Biden’s victory over the Trumpster, the FERC is now more sympathetic to climate change issues. The three Democrats will not be happy with ISO-NE. Thanks to those who wrote letters to our Senators and thanks for coming to the March 16 rally.

Gas Pains

Unfortunately, that isn’t all the Energy Oligarchs have done. Last fall, long before the crisis in Ukraine, the Baker-run Department of Public Utilities (DPU) granted an unjustified increase in gas rates, causing a sharp rise this winter in home gas heating costs and in the cost of electricity. That last item is courtesy of ISO, which decided that more than 50% of the electricity in our grid comes from plants using natural gas. 

Then the Baker administration put together a new building code that doesn’t allow cities or towns to ban gas heat hook-ups for new buildings. The DPU doubled its gas company give-aways and told Mass Save not to give people incentives to add solar to their homes and not to increase efforts in environmental justice areas as defined by the new legislative Road Map law. Finally, as a parting gift, the DPU is considering a gas company proposal to add hydrogen to its natural gas and then to label it a renewable energy source!


Notice the pattern?

The Energy Oligarchs decide what they want, and ISO-NE and Governor Baker’s minions jump to attention. ISO’s servile position is an old story, it has been a captive for several decades. Clearly, Governor Baker’s decision not to run for re-election has freed him to give favors to old friends before he has to turn off the lights in his State House office.

How are we to deal with Energy Oligarchs on the March? One word – Coalitions. 350 Mass’ Bring the Green New Deal Home campaign is moving rapidly to firm up alliances with other groups to ensure that the public, the media, and the political elites know we will not give away our energy future without a fight. Join us for a livable world.

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