Renewable Energy Authority

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Grid operator ISO New England said it plans to extend the minimum offer price rule (MOPR) through 2024, a move that drew condemnation from renewable energy advocates.

In a statement, ISO New England outlined the “transition” proposal that will be submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in the coming weeks. If allowed to proceed, the MOPR would remain in effect for next year’s capacity auction.

The transition proposal, paired with the renewable technology resource (RTR) exemption, will serve the region with a “dual objective of protecting power system reliability while having state-sponsored resources gain entry to the market,” ISO New England wrote in a blog post.

ISO New England, which operates the grid for Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont, said its plan was designed to “mitigate short-term reliability impacts” of ending the MOPR.

The New England Power Pool Participant’s Committee voted to support the decision on Feb. 4.

Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, condemned ISO New England’s plan, saying that his group was “disappointed” that ISO-NE “reversed its earlier commitment to eliminate the anti-competitive and anti-renewable” MOPR by 2023. He said in a statement that delayed implementation would keep clean energy from competing in the regional capacity markets for another two years. He labeled MOPR a “costly and inefficient barrier” to achieving clean energy goals and called for it to be “quickly removed.”

Renewable energy advocates oppose MOPRs in capacity markets arguing that they prevent energy resources like wind and solar from participating in the auction and reducing capacity costs for all consumers. The MOPR is especially problematic, advocates say, as more states implement clean energy standards and mandates.

Rao Konidena, an independent energy consultant who previously worked on policy for the Midcontinent ISO, said the upcoming midterm elections may play a role in whether ISO New England’s MOPR stays or goes. Republicans in the U.S. Senate could put pressure on FERC to accept ISO New England’s proposal due to natural gas interests, should they regain a majority in the chamber.

Konidena said that in 2018, ISO New England’s Forward Capacity Market Revenue peaked with $3.6 billion changing hands but declined to $2.7 billion in 2020 as renewable resource deployments grew.

“The MOPR debate has caused consternation in the stakeholder community because stakeholder process has been preempted,” Konidena said in an interview. “Solar and wind do not get 100% capacity credit. Gas does.” He said that renewables are being “double penalized” under the MOPR.

ISO New England said that its transition plan would be submitted to FERC in the coming weeks.