Governor Rell: U.S. House Version of Energy Bill Has No Expanded Powers for FERC


April 02, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Governor M. Jodi Rell today said she is pleased that the U.S. House of Representatives is considering a version of federal energy legislation that does not include increased powers for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – a provision Governor Rell sharply condemned in a letter to U.S. Senate leaders last month.

Congress is considering legislation to expedite the development of “green” power – electricity created by wind, solar, hydro, biomass or other means – and construction of the infrastructure needed to move that energy from the relatively remote, often rural generation sites to the urban areas where it is needed most.

The draft bill from House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Representative Ed Markey (D-Mass.) would require FERC to set “grid planning principles” and establish a regional planning process.

But unlike the Senate version of the bill – introduced by Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) – the draft House bill does not give FERC the authority to run roughshod over state authorities such as the Connecticut Siting Council.

Governor Rell wrote Senator Reid, Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) and Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) on March 19, calling the idea of expanded powers for FERC “an unacceptable assault on states’ rights.”

“Connecticut knows all too well what the current incarnation of FERC can do – ignore the concerns of states and municipalities, turn a blind eye to the economic implications of its decisions and single-mindedly blunder through environmentally sensitive areas,” Governor Rell said. “In the last few years FERC has tried to impose artificial price increases on Connecticut utility customers and jam a floating liquefied natural gas platform into the Long Island Sound, just to name two examples. The last thing anyone should be doing is expanding its powers.

“I have long supported the idea of increased development and use of ‘clean’ energy,” the Governor said. “These are goals I spelled out in 2006 in my Energy Vision for a Cleaner, Greener State – and Connecticut has not only ‘talked the talk,’ we have ‘walked the walk.’ We have increased our use of green energy at state buildings to more than 17 percent while expanding the use of hybrids and other alternative-fuel vehicles in its state fleet. Connecticut was cited this year as one of just three states in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ‘National Green Power Partners.’

“But we cannot – and will not – allow the need for our nation to increase its energy independence to come at the expense of residents or irreplaceable natural resources like the Long Island Sound,” Governor Rell said. “FERC has the laudable and necessary goal of building a national energy infrastructure. The problem arises when its focus on that goal comes at the expense of the very people and communities that infrastructure is intended to serve. This is exactly why forward-looking states like Connecticut created bodies such as the Connecticut Siting Council – and why they must be a part of an ongoing dialogue about how that infrastructure is developed.”

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