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Plant owner’s motives questioned

Brayton Point, an electric power station in Somerset, is scheduled to be closed in 2017.

Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/File 2014

Brayton Point, an electric power station in Somerset, is scheduled to be closed in 2017.

A national consumer advocacy group has asked federal regulators to investigate the planned closing of the Brayton Point power plant, alleging that the private equity firm that owns the Somerset facility is manipulating the New England electricity market to make tens of millions of dollars.

In documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday, Public Citizen alleged Energy Capital Partners knew that closing Brayton Point would push up the price generators of electricity are paid by ISO New England, the power grid operator.

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ISO New England pays utilities to commit to providing electricity in future years to ensure the region has sufficient power.

With Brayton Point scheduled to close in 2017, ISO New England recently paid energy generators $2 billion more for making commitments to provide energy to the region that year, according to the FERC filing.

As a result, Public Citizen claimed, five other plants owned by Energy Capital Partners reaped an extra $100 million.

“We see this as an intentional move to withhold capacity so that their other operating units can make money,” said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s energy program.

An Energy Capital Partners spokesman had no comment.

The private equity firm has offices in California and New Jersey.

Lacey Girard, a spokeswoman for ISO New England, said that organization is aware of Public Citizen’s filing, but had no additional comment on the issue.

A spokeswoman for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Erin Ailworth can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @ailworth.
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