Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey Describes the Role of the Ratepayer Advocate

In her first speech regarding energy policy since her election, Attorney General Healey laid out some of her energy priorities before the Northeast Energy and Commerce Association’s annual conference on March 12.

The Massachusetts Attorney General serves as the Commonwealth’s ratepayer advocate, which has traditionally solely focused on the cost of electricity and natural gas for Massachusetts consumers. In the speech, Healey noted that she expected to be a “21st century ratepayer advocate” who recognizes that “the cost of climate response” needs to part of the discussion of energy prices. Highlights of her speech included:

  • Criticism of federal tax breaks for the oil and gas industries;
  • A call for increased natural gas capacity;
  • A pledge to monitor infrastructure projects closely based on a realistic assessment of need noting that her office is engaged in the FERC docket related to the Northeast Energy Direct proposal;
  • Support for a “robust and diverse mix of clean energy, including large scale hydro”;
  • Using her seat on the Energy Efficiency Advisory Board to push for the “greatest level of cost effective efficiency possible”; and
  • Praise for the Commonwealth’s solar program.

Healey’s willingness to devote a speech early in her term on energy issues signals that she intends to be aggressive on energy issues and that energy rates will not be her sole focus. Although she did not address it in her speech, it will be interesting to see the position that her Office takes on Governor Baker’s proposal that electric utilities pursue gas capacity contracts that will be the subject of an upcoming DPU docket.

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