State regulators urge Capitol Hill to continue working on wholesale energy markets

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2003 — Four state energy regulators on Tuesday met with members of Congress to discuss the impact of the pending National Energy Policy Act and the need to move forward with development of wholesale electric markets.

The Commissioners meeting on Capitol Hill were Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Energy Chairman Paul Vasington; Michigan Public Service Commissioner David A. Svanda; New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Commissioner Carol J. Murphy; and Pennsylvania Public Utility Commissioner Glen R. Thomas.

“There are millions of people, businesses and industries in our respective states that are truly benefiting from open, competitive wholesale markets,” said Chairman Vasington. “Although our success has been overshadowed by experiences in a few other states, we see open markets that put downward pressure on prices and lead to greater investment in supply and enhanced reliability.”

The public utility Commissioners want to ensure that federal lawmakers are aware of the specific benefits consumers and states have received through wholesale electric markets.

According to the Commissioners, in addition to cost savings, states have seen other benefits from electric market reforms, including the development of sufficient power to meet demand, incentives for private-sector investments in new sources of power supply and the development of cleaner, newer power technologies.

“Regulators from 20 states have approved the direction and inclusiveness of the FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) in developing wholesale markets,” said Commissioner Murphy. “FERC has conducted open and exhaustive meetings and forums to debate and develop a plan to facilitate the establishment of standard wholesale electricity markets. For our states, a change in direction from FERC due to legislation would be a tremendous setback.”

Commissioner Svanda said, “Potential amendments in the Senate that would prevent the FERC from advancing wholesale markets until at least 2005 are very problematic — this would essentially prevent us from doing our work in our states.”

Over the past several months, a regionally and politically diverse group of 72 state regulators has advocated for continued progress toward market restructuring.

“Our message has been consistent to all members in the House and Senate: We believe that well-designed and effectively monitored markets are in the best interest of consumers, and we have seen benefits in our states that must not be overturned or derailed,” said Commissioner Thomas. “We need Congress to pass federal energy legislation that allows federal and state regulators and industry stakeholders to continue developing wholesale power markets that economically benefit our states and consumers.”

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