Connecticut Attorney General's Office

Press Release

Attorney General Disappointed By Federal Court Decision Regarding States' Authority To Determine Electricity Requirements

June 23, 2009

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he is disappointed by today's federal appeals court decision affirming federal regulators' authority to determine states' electricity needs.

Blumenthal intervened in support of Department of Public Utility Control's (DPUC) appeal of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) 2003 ruling setting the "capacity"-- power plants -- that New England states must build to assure reliability. These decisions had previously been made by states. Since 2005, FERC and ISO-New England have determined capacity for Connecticut and the rest of New England.

Blumenthal said that states should determine their electricity needs, allowing them to balance reliability with other concerns including environmental protection and cost to ratepayers. FERC and grid operator ISO-New England, whose policies overwhelmingly favor generators over ratepayers, focus solely on reliability, he said.

Blumenthal said he will consider a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"State officials acting in the public interest should determine the state's electricity needs, not unaccountable federal regulators controlled by Big Energy," Blumenthal said. "This decision changes nothing, but it cements the status quo by sanctioning FERC's illegal power grab. State officials, not far away federal bureaucrats, should determine how much electricity they need -- and what tradeoffs they wish to make to protect the environment and ratepayer wallets. My office will consider a possible appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The state's electricity system is irreparably broken -- sticking Connecticut with the continental United State's highest rates -- because of irrational, anti-competitive rules imposed by federal regulators. This decision doubles down on failure by affirming the authority of feckless federal bureaucrats who created the current mess.

"This ruling illustrates and increases the need for federal and state reform to break Big Energy's straggling grip on Connecticut's consumers and businesses. Congress needs to make ISO-New England and FERC more accountable to the states, forcing them to repeal or rework unworkable market rules that favor generators over ratepayers. I will continue my three-year fight for a state power authority to circumvent and short-circuit federal rules, reducing power prices as much $1 billion."