Committee Passes Key Recommendations by AG Coakley to Improve the Green Communities Act and Enhance Competition in Utility Rates
Recommendations Include Competitive Bidding Process to Increase Transparency
BOSTON – A bill adopting key recommendations by Attorney General Martha Coakley to help provide enhanced transparency, competition, and accountability in utility rates and make improvements in key components of the Green Communities Act was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy today.
“An Act Relative to Competitively Priced Electricity” incorporated several recommendations by AG Coakley in testimony given at a GCA oversight hearing in November when she called for increased competition and transparency in the procurement of long-term renewable contracts as well as eliminating unnecessary utility incentives. Common sense changes such as those advocated by the Attorney General and endorsed by the Committee will allow the Commonwealth to achieve its energy and environmental goals at lower costs the consumer over the long-term.
“The Green Communities Act has provided a number of benefits for the Commonwealth, and these proposals are important first steps to maintain those benefits while ensuring more competition and accountability,” AG Coakley said. “The GCA has helped spur our green technology industry and provided significant savings to consumers who participate in energy efficiency programs. The reforms proposed today will increase competition, transparency, and greatly limit sweetheart deals for utility companies. I want to thank Chairmen Senator Benjamin Downing and Representative John Keenan for their leadership and commitment to this important issue.”
The Act, now with the Senate for further consideration, includes several conditions supported by AG Coakley that will benefit consumers including:
- Increasing competition and transparency by subjecting all long-term renewable energy contracts to a competitive procurement process;
- Decreasing the 4 percent bonus that companies receive on the cost of any long-term renewable contract to 1 percent;
- Providing for an increased review of utility rate proceedings through a mandated rate evaluation every three years as well as an extended review period at the Department of Public Utilities;
- Providing for a voluntary accelerated energy efficiency rebate pilot program geared toward very large customers;
- Limiting the impact of rate increases by capping base rate increases at no more than 7.5% per year and requiring larger increases to nonresidential customers to be spread over several years; and
- Closing current loopholes in the Department of Public Utilities authority to review merger proposals.
The Attorney General’s Office of Ratepayer Advocacy is by statute the utility ratepayer advocate for Massachusetts consumers and is authorized to intervene in or institute administrative and judicial proceedings on behalf of consumers in connection with any matter involving the rates, charges, prices or tariffs of any gas or electric company doing business in the Commonwealth.