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Several New England Senators Criticize ISO New England For Favoring Fossil Fuels Over Renewables

J Scott Applewhite
AP File

Most of New England's U.S. Senators, including two presidential candidates, are sharply criticizing the operators of the region's electricity transmission grid for favoring fossil fuels over renewable energy.

This week's letter to ISO New England was penned by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and signed by seven more lawmakers, including Vermont's Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts' Elizabeth Warren and Maine's Angus King.

They accuse the grid administrator of pushing aside state renewable energy goals, and instead "pursuing a patchwork of market reforms aimed at preserving the status-quo of a fossil fuel-centered resource mix."

The letter is being welcomed by environmental groups. Greg Cunningham, who directs the Conservation Law Foundation's clean energy program, says the ISO New England is providing market incentives for natural-gas powered plants and disincentives that inhibit the entry of cheaper renewable sources.

"They are making it more costly for consumers while they are blocking these clean-energy resources from participating in their markets,” says Cunningham. “They are simultaneously producing from these markets more-polluting gas power plants, which is exactly what the New England states are trying to avoid."

In an email, an ISO New England spokesperson said that over the last decade the agency has worked "tirelessly" to incorporate renewables into the system, and that it is planning a new look at the future of the region's power system next year.