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Conn. energy official: State may decide to pull out of ISO-NE

Connecticut is assessing whether to continue its involvement in the ISO New England marketplace due to the grid operator's "lack of leadership on carbon," according to Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dykes.

Speaking at an environmental event at Trinity College on Jan. 15, Dykes told participants that the state is "at the mercy of a regional capacity market that's driving investment in more natural gas and fossil fuel power plants that we don't want and that we don't need." Dykes blamed policies and decisions made by both the grid operator and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for leading the state to "take a serious look at the costs and benefits of participating in the ISO New England market."

The Connecticut Siting Council in June 2019 reversed its earlier decision to deny a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for NTE Energy's 647-MW Killingly Energy Center natural gas-fired, combined-cycle generating facility after the ISO-NE assigned the proposed plant a capacity supply obligation for the 2022-2023 commitment period.

Killingly is the largest planned natural gas-fired project in the ISO-NE footprint, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

"It makes no sense to participate in a deregulated structure if it's going to force us to pay for resources that we don't want and that we don't need," Dykes said. She added that the state is "working to turn this ship around" — away from natural gas and toward more-renewable resources as it aims to achieve a decarbonized grid.

Dykes' comments are the latest shot against the ISO-NE coming from across the region.

In November 2019, U.S. senators from five Northeastern states wrote to ISO-NE President and CEO Gordon van Welie, imploring him to consider regional environmental and climate goals when acting to improve electric reliability. The following month, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launched a petition for residents to sign demanding that the grid operator "adopt energy market rules that promote affordable clean energy, healthy communities, and climate protection."