Holyoke, MA (January 29, 2020) – As awareness of the climate emergency continues to grow, the campaign to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy has turned its attention to the role of ISO-New England, the power grid operator for our region. On December 26, 2019, a protest at the gates of ISO-NE was held. On Saturday, January 25th, residents and ratepayers representing multiple environmental justice organizations throughout New England held a rally and street theater performance at City Hall in Holyoke. Their goal is to bring attention to ISO for supporting the burning of coal and other fossil fuels by providing millions of dollars of subsidies. Specifically, they are challenging ISO to commit to ending their support for the largest coal-burning plant in New England (in Bow, New Hampshire).
These protests are amplifying a message ISO has already been receiving from the State Governments of New England. In December, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey launched an effort to educate Massachusetts families and businesses about the substantial public health and economic costs of fossil fuel usage and encouraged them to call on ISO-New England to set market rules that support cleaner energy resources (see the video and the petition to ISO). In November, seven United States Senators from New England sent a letter to ISO-NE President and CEO Gordan van Welie. In the letter, they state “ISO-NE is not considering the region’s environmental and climate goals…[and] appears to be pursuing a patchwork of market reforms aimed at preserving the status quo of a fossil fuel-centered resource mix …which will force consumers to pay millions of dollars to exist, polluting power plants with on-site fuel supplies, such as oil, coal, or liquefied natural gas.”
The event on the 25th is part of the #NoCoalNoGas campaign that has organized protests at the coal-fired Merrimack Generating Station at Bow, NH, and blockades to stop the coal trains that supply this plant. “We stand with those who are blockading the coal trains. We join the Attorney General and U.S. Senators in calling on ISO to adopt energy market rules that promote affordable clean energy, healthy communities, and climate protection. And we demand that ISO New England cooperate with New England energy policies for a rapid transition to renewable energy sources,” said Steven Botkin, one of the event organizers.
For readers that would like more information about the recent actions, the #NoCoalNoGas campaign, or how the ISO operates they can contact either Elizabeth Caretti Ramírez at firstname.lastname@example.org or Steven Botkin at email@example.com.