If the folks who run New England’s electricity transmission grid get their way there’s a good chance you’ll be looking at higher electric bills come New Year’s. But it won’t be without a fight.

Three Connecticut state agencies have joined three other New England states to protest a proposed 10 percent budget increase by ISO-New England. Attorney General George Jepsen, Consumer Counsel Elin Katz and Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Chairman Arthur House have sent a joint protest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission protesting the increase.

They also are asking that FERC hold a hearing on it rather than just allowing it to go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, and that ISO-New England’s budgets be filed with state utility commissions 60 days before filing with FERC. State utility commissions currently have no authority over ISO’s budget even though it is essentially ratepayer supported.

“Connecticut’s electric rates are among the highest in the nation. FERC needs to determine why ISO-New England seeks to increase its burden on ratepayers by nearly 10 percent, when electricity demand is flat or declining,” Jepsen said in a statement. “Connecticut and other New England states should have the opportunity to review the ISO-New England budget and provide input on whether the agency is acting reasonably to control costs.”

According to a joint press release, the state agencies’ review of ISO budgets shows that 80 percent of the proposed 2013 one goes to staff and outside professional services. Staffing levels have more than tripled in the past 15 years, the Connecticut agencies say. The review also pointed out that more than half of ISO’s 524 employees receive salaries in excess of $100,000 and that last year, employees’ merit bonuses averaged 9 percent.

Agencies in Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are also participating in the protest. The public comment period ends Friday, Nov. 30.

Jan Ellen is CT Mirror's regular freelance Environment and Energy Reporter. As a freelance reporter, her stories have also appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Yale Climate Connections, and elsewhere. She is a former editor at The Hartford Courant, where she handled national politics including coverage of the controversial 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. She was an editor at the Gazette in Colorado Springs and spent more than 20 years as a TV and radio producer at CBS News and CNN in New York and in the Boston broadcast market. In 2013 she was the recipient of a Knight Journalism Fellowship at MIT on energy and climate. She graduated from the University of Michigan and attended Boston University’s graduate film program.

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