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Corker, Wyden, Murkowski, Burr, Graham Introduce Bill to Protect Consumers from Unfair Electricity Costs

Senators Introduce Bipartisan Electric Transmission Customer Protection Act

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) today introduced bipartisan legislation to protect consumers from footing the bill for energy projects that serve no benefit for their state or region.

Under existing law, the fees associated with connecting new energy sources to the electric grid are paid by the communities that benefit. But a proposed new rule by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), to be finalized this spring, would give FERC sweeping authority to broadly spread the associated costs to customers outside of the area immediately serviced by the new transmission lines. The Electric Transmission Customer Protection Act would prevent this scenario by requiring FERC to use a "measurable reliability or economic benefit" standard when distributing transmission costs across state lines. 

"We need federal policies that promote viable domestic energy production and innovation in the fairest, most cost-effective manner possible," Corker said. "Governors and utilities from across the country have spoken out against FERC's attempt to shift transmission costs from states that benefit to those that don't." 

"Recent FERC decisions could put Oregon ratepayers on the hook for the cost of electric transmission projects they can't really use," Wyden said. "This bill is intended to send a message to FERC that I am prepared to step in to protect Oregon ratepayers from regulations that fly in the face of common sense. The principle that the costs ratepayers pay should be directly related to the benefits they receive from a transmission project needs to be absolutely clear in FERC's regulations and right now it isn't."

"We need to remove roadblocks to improving the nation's transmission infrastructure, but those who don't benefit should not be saddled with the costs of upgrading the system," said Murkowski, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. "This is an issue Congress needs to take a close look at to ensure utility customers aren't being unduly burdened."

"Socializing America's energy costs by asking North Carolinians to subsidize projects that they won't benefit from is simply not right. This bill will keep the federal government from doing just that," Burr said.

In May 2009, Corker offered a similar amendment that was approved by the energy committee with broad bipartisan support, including Senators Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Brownback (R-Kan.), Bunning (R-Ky.), Burr, Cantwell (D-Wash.), Corker, Landrieu (D-La.), Lincoln (D-Ark.), McCain, (R-Ariz.), Murkowski, Risch (R-Idaho), Sessions (R-Ala.) and Wyden.

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