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State agencies protest grid operator's budget

Consumer advocates from four New England states are challenging a rate increase by the nonprofit organization that manages the New England power grid.

New Hampshire joined Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut on Wednesday in filing a protest with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against ISO New England's proposal to increase its budget by nearly 10 percent.

The petition asks FERC to reform its review process to allow states to independently analyze the ISO-NE budget.

ISO-NE operates New England's regional transmission grid and electricity markets under the sole supervision of FERC. The states want the process changed to allow review by each Public Utilities Commission.

"The ratepayers who pay ISO-NE's expenses must have a meaningful opportunity to review its annual budgets," said Susan W. Chamberlin, New Hampshire consumer advocate for residential ratepayers.

For 2013, ISO-NE is requesting approximately $165 million for its operating budget, a $14 million increase over 2012. During the past four years, the organization has increased its budget by 34 percent, Chamberlin said.

"This year, 275 of ISO's 524 employees were paid more than $100,000 annually as base pay, and received average yearly pay increases of 3 percent for the past seven years," said Elin Swanson Katz, Connecticut Consumer Counsel. "Employees last year received an average yearly merit bonus of 9 percent per employee. We are asking the FERC to conduct a hearing so we can examine whether the number of staff and how they are compensated is reasonable."


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