November 28, 2012

Maine, 3 other states protest grid operator's budget

The state attorneys general say ISO-New England is not justified in seeking a $165 million budget for 2013.

The Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. — State attorneys general, regulators and consumer advocates in Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island said Wednesday a proposed budget requested by New England's electric grid operator is excessive.

The officials said in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that ISO-New England's $165 million budget request for 2013 "has grown exponentially, seemingly without regard to poor economic conditions."

State officials say the region's ratepayers bear the cost of running ISO and asked federal regulators to require more state involvement in the budget process.

Arthur House, chairman of Connecticut's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, said ratepayers who pay ISO's expenses "must have a meaningful opportunity" to review ISOs annual budgets.

"The current system with no required state regulator review has resulted in unchecked growth by the ISO," he said. "FERC should receive and consider state utility regulator input from states actually served by ISO-NE before issuing any decisions approving annual budgets."

ISO, which is based in Holyoke, Mass., said its proposed 2013 operating budget – costs to run the agency minus depreciation and other expenses – is about $136 million.

In addition, it said its budget process is transparent and that state officials have several opportunities to become involved.

In its filing last month, ISO said it has added positions related to gas as a growing energy source and cited higher interest expense for debt. And it has allocated $1 million for planning and new employees in transmission planning, information technology and market development.

The grid operator also said it seeks to make sure pay is competitive and annual reviews survey data from compensation consultants.

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