Nov 18 2003


Energy Bill Conference Report Includes Crucial Provisions for Alabama Electricity Customers

U. S. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) announced that the Energy Bill Conference Report, which was accepted by the conferees, includes several important provisions that will benefit electricity consumers in Alabama.

The most important of those provisions include the delay of implementation of Standard Market Design, a proposed rulemaking by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), until December 31, 2006. Standard Market Design (SMD) would create a one-size-fits-all template for the entire country, eliminating a state’s ability to make decisions on electricity issues specific to their state. The proposed rule would also require customers to pay for transmission facility upgrades caused by new generators, even if the customer does not need or use the power from those generators.

Sen. Shelby said, “The delay of SMD is important to Alabamians because SMD would send the relatively inexpensive power that Alabamians have to other areas of the country, forcing us in the Southeast to pick up the tab. Additionally, the SMD proposal would force rate payers in Alabama to cover the costs of upgrading transmission in Alabama in order for excess power to be shipped out of the region. Therefore, we would pay for power upgrades that serve high cost areas, such as New York City, while providing no benefit to consumers in Alabama.”

“Another benefit in the Energy Bill Conference Report is our strong focus on reliability. Reliability is the key to preventing another massive blackout like the one experienced in the Northeast United States and Canada last August. Specifically, the conference report establishes mandatory reliability standards to be put in place by a self-regulating reliability organization. The bill also requires FERC to provide incentives for transmission investment, thus encouraging more reliable transmission lines,” Shelby continued.

“Although I am disappointed that the conferees were unable to come to agreement about continued exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), I believe we have a good bill. I hope that the conference report makes it to the Senate floor expeditiously, so we can pass it and send it to the President for his signature,” Shelby concluded.