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Sierra Club challenges grid's fuel inventory plan

Several conservation groups have filed a protest with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, encouraging it to reject the regional electrical grid operator's proposal for stockpiling fuel.

ISO New England's Inventoried Energy Program pays most fossil fuel-burning power plants to have fuel readily available during cold snaps. The Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Conservation Law Foundation said the program could cost $500 million more than projected, due to the high cost of natural gas.

Sierra Club attorney Casey Roberts said the program will be costly to New England ratepayers, and is not needed.

"Unfortunately, energy prices are really high right now," she said. "And that means those generators already have huge incentives to have fuel available so they can generate power and earn that money."

And Roberts said instead of subsidizing fossil fuels, ISO New England should be shifting faster to renewable energy sources. She expects a ruling from FERC in the next month or two.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.