Murkowski Plans Hearing into Power Price Spikes
Senate Energy Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) last
week said he will hold a hearing into the price spikes in the
Midwest electricity market after the Senate returns from its recess
Murkowski "understands that FERC is already collecting data" on
this issue. "He said it gets us into a portion of electricity
deregulation. He thinks there's a need for a hearing," noted Tina
Kreisher, a committee spokeswoman. She indicated the committee
probably would ask FERC to testify at the hearing.
The Alaskan lawmaker's announcement, which was made during the
committee's business meeting, triggered a complaint from Sen. Dale
Bumpers (D-AR) that Murkowski had failed to take any action on
comprehensive electricity restructuring bill during the legislative
session. Even though restructuring is at a "dead end" in the House
this year, Bumpers "wants a [committee] markup of his bill. He
wants a vote on the Senate floor" before he retires at the end of
the year, she said.
When the hearing on the price spikes is held, Bumpers said he
wants "information available on what would have happened to the
companies [that] experienced price spikes if his bill had been in
place," Kreisher noted. Murkowski agreed to the request.
The price spikes occurred in the final week of June in the
Midwest power market, with electric spot market prices jumping from
$30 per MWh to $7,000 MWh. A prolonged heat wave, forced
generation outages and transmission constraints were cited as the
primary causes of the price spikes. Industrial customers, however,
contend that power marketers took advantage of the bad situation
and gouged them on prices.
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