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'Sketchy players' criticized as Manchester eyes its energy contract

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 04. 2014 10:21PM

MANCHESTER — A long-running dispute involving federal regulators, the city’s energy services contractor and a rival company will make its way into the aldermanic chambers on Monday.

The aldermen’s Special Committee on Energy Contracts and Related Activities will be meeting to review the city’s contract with Competitive Energy Services (CES), which oversees the city’s energy needs with the goal of getting the lowest possible prices for fuel and electricity.

Ward 7 Alderman William Shea, the committee’s chair, agreed to convene the meeting after communicating with Gus Fromuth, the managing director of Freedom Energy Logistics, a CES competitor that sought the contract with the city when it went out to bid six years ago.

For more than a year, Fromuth has been seeking to alert city officials to the ongoing effort by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to impose sanctions on CES for allegedly using fraud to benefit from an incentive system offered through ISO New England, the region’s energy network.

Earlier this year, the case was shifted to federal district court in Massachusetts. FERC wants the company to be slapped with close to $9 million in fines; CES has filed to dismiss the suit.

“My concern is there are sketchy players in the energy market that shouldn’t be doing business with government entities. It’s not good for Manchester,” Fromuth said.

He added that he thinks the city should again put the energy services contract out to bid.

“We used a crowbar to open the bidding process (last time). We were able get the bid opened up, but because of the relationship they (CES) have with the public works, the bid went again to them,” Fromuth said, referring to the extension of CES’s contract.

In a statement, a CES spokesman defended the contract and its work for the city.

“As far as we (are) aware, the city has been very pleased with the full array of services we have provided and continue to provide,” the spokesperson said.

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