By Rhoda Feng
In January, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) rejected a request by the New England Power Pool (NEPOOL) Participants Committee to ban members of the press from becoming NEPOOL members. NEPOOL is the official organization tasked by FERC to develop electric rate policy for all of New England. It holds meetings at which electric rate policy is set for six states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Public Citizen in July asked FERC to require NEPOOL to open its meetings – at which billions of dollars in electric rate policy are developed – to journalists and the public.
FERC’s rejection of the press ban marks a partial victory for the public and the freedom of the press – partial, because FERC’s order applies only to banning journalists from being NEPOOL members.
FERC declined to issue a broader rule on NEPOOL’s current policy of banning the general public from meetings where proposals to change New England’s power market rules are developed, deliberated and voted upon. And the only way for journalists to attend NEPOOL meetings is to pay $500 for a membership.