NE Power Pool seeks to ban press
Says coverage would hinder debate on electricity policies
THE NEW ENGLAND POWER POOL, an organization that helps develop policies and procedures governing the region’s wholesale electricity markets, is seeking federal regulatory approval to bar reporters from its meetings.
NEPOOL has always had an unwritten policy excluding the press, but it decided to make it a formal policy after a reporter with a trade publication called RTO Insider tried to gain admittance to the meetings. RTO Insider was the first to report on the press ban.
In its filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, NEPOOL said allowing the press to attend its meetings “would adversely impact NEPOOL’s ability to continue to foster candid discussions and negotiations in its stakeholder meetings.” NEPOOL’s stakeholders include firms actively engaged in the electricity markets, including power generators and transmission companies, as well as state officials and the regional grid operator, ISO New England.
Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, the advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader, said NEPOOL is a federally regulated entity that helps develop policies covering electricity markets in the region. He said the public, including reporters, should be allowed to monitor the votes and deliberations of the members of the organization, just as they do with similar organizations in other parts of the country.
A spokeswoman for ISO New England said NEPOOL is a private organization that establishes its own policies on attendance at its meetings. “NEPOOL has an advisory relationship to the ISO, but is not under the ISO’s jurisdiction,” the spokeswoman said.NEPOOL’s filing with FERC indicates the organization debated the press ban and even considered an alternative approach initially. The alternative approach would have required members of the press to pay a $5,000 fee that would have allowed them to attend most meetings except those held with the board of ISO New England. The alternative proposal would have allowed reporters to quote meeting participants “subject to a requirement that the press provide a pre-publication draft of meeting coverage to all attendees quoted so that they could make corrections and provide additional explanation for context based on responses from the individuals quoted. “
The alternative proposal was defeated by a margin of 73-27.