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House bill might help lower PSNH electric rates, supporters say
House Bill 1602 is sponsored by the chair of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee, David Borden, D-New Castle, and directs the Public Utilities Commission to determine if selling the plants would benefit Public Service ratepayers economically.
However, one opponent said the bill would be a radical change in regulating public utilities.
“The word regulate is entirely different from word dictate,” Hess said.
He said the Electric Utility Restructuring Oversight Commission had two choices, mandate the divestiture legislatively or ask the PUC to perform due diligence and make a determination. “We choose the later course,” he said, noting the bill is backed by both PSNH and the Business and Industry Association.
Under the bill, the PUC would have to file a report by Dec. 31 with its determination.
On Tuesday, Public Service of New Hampshire announced its power generation facilities saved ratepayers $115 million by using its electric generating facilities rather purchasing energy on the wholesale market. The company said escalating natural gas prices created significant volatility in the price of electricity this winter.
The PUC is in the process of determining how much of the $422 million Public Service customers should pay. Regulators are not expected to reach a conclusion until late this year or the beginning of the next year.
The House also approved House Bill 1385, which defines when new approval is needed for expanding an existing energy production facility and forbids state regulators from including more than $1 million in cost overruns in electric rates unless there is “substantial evidence of unforeseeable factors.”
The Site Evaluation Committee did not require a full blown investigation into the $422 million scrubber at Merrimack Station after it determined the project would not be a substantial change in the plant’s production.
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