ALTON — In response to a possible increase in electricity prices, state Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton, is joining Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan in requesting an explanation from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) about the high cost of energy at their annual capacity auction.
“Middle-class families are the backbone of our economy,” Beiser said. “When energy prices jump, it makes it harder for families to balance their household budgets, save for the future and provide for their children.”
MISO operates the bulk power grid for much of the central United States, including Central and Southern Illinois. Last week, prices at MISO’s annual auction for energy suppliers increased as anticipated, but, in the region encompassing Central and Southern Illinois, rates were 10 times higher than in 2014 and more than double what market analysts had expected. Beiser is joining Madigan and calling on MISO to explain this discrepancy.
“I can understand some differences in the cost of energy, but when Southern Illinois residents might be forced to pay 50 times more in energy than other regions, something is wrong,” Beiser said. “We need to have an answer about why the cost of energy is set to be substantially higher in southern Illinois than in other regions.”
For information, contact Beiser’s constituent service office at (618) 465-5900.
Illinois congressmen seek response from regulatory agency
Congressman John Shimkus (R-Illinois) sent a letter Friday to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission questioning the MISO auction. Republican congressmen Mike Bost and Rodney Davis joined Shimkus on the letter.
The letter notes that capacity prices for MISO Zone 4, which includes most of Illinois, unexpectedly skyrocketed “from $16.75 per MW-day in 2014-2015, to $150 per MW-day for 2015-2016.”
“Not only is this a 900 percent increase from last year, but this year’s capacity rate for our region is 40 times the price set for neighboring zones," Shimkus said. "Illinois ratepayers deserve to know whether all the rules for this auction were properly followed and, if so, what can be done to prevent similar rate spikes moving forward.”
“A rate increase of this magnitude is harmful to working families, small businesses and manufacturers in Southern Illinois, especially since it won’t apply to neighboring jurisdictions,” Bost said. “I look forward to the FERC’s response to this inquiry.”
“Illinois families and businesses have a right to know that this auction was done properly and followed all the rules before being forced to pay higher utility bills,” Davis said. “Given the vast discrepancies from previous auctions, I want to make sure the proper review took place and I look forward to FERC's response.”
The extent to which the capacity rate increase will affect individual ratepayers is not yet fully known. State officials have also questioned the auction in a separate letter to MISO.
A copy of the Shimkus, Bost and Davis letter can be found here.