Feds approve plan to delay scrapping a New England energy rule that harms renewables
A controversial rule that makes it harder for renewable energy projects to participate in one of New England’s lucrative electricity markets will remain in place for another two years.
Late Friday night, Federal energy regulators approved a plan from the regional grid operator, ISO New England, to keep the so-called minimum offer price rule — or MOPR (pronounced MOPE-er) — until 2025.
The MOPR dictates a price floor below which new power sources cannot bid in the annual forward capacity market — a sort of futures market for power plants promising to be “on call” and ready to produce electricity when demand spikes.
The grid operator holds this annual on-call auction to lock in the power capacity it thinks the region will need three years in the future. Power generators that won a spot in the 2022 auction, for example, are on stand-by beginning in 2025.
By keeping the MOPR around longer, Melissa Birchard of the Acadia Center says it will be harder for the New England states to meet their decarbonization goals.
“The MOPR has held the region back for a long time and we need to see it go away forever,” she said. “This decision falls short of providing the certainty and speed that the region deserves.”
As WBUR detailed in a recent explainer about the MOPR, most everyone agrees the rule needs to go; the debate has been over when it should happen.
Environmentalists, consumer advocates and most New England state leaders wanted the grid operator to scrap the rule in time for the February 2023 auction. But the grid operator decided to support a “transition proposal” — first put forward by a few energy companies with natural gas plants — that would keep it until the 2025 auction.
Notably, Friday’s decision from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the New England grid operator, was not unanimous. Four out of five members voted in favor of the plan, though some, like Commissioner Richard Glick, did so reluctantly.
Glick, who has been outspoken about the need to reform the MOPR, wrote in a statement that he would have preferred to see the grid operator, ISO New England (ISO-NE), eliminate the rule immediately.
Read the full article in WBUR News here.