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An Editorial: Joseph W. McQuaid, Publisher -- Court to PUC: Cutting costs matters

New Hampshire Union Leader Publisher

May 23. 2018 11:52PM

The New Hampshire Supreme Court got it exactly right this week: The primary intent of deregulating the energy market in the mid-1990s was first and foremost to lower costs for consumers.

The Public Utilities Commission stood that common-sense conclusion on its head when it ruled, in 2016, that Eversource was getting back into the generation business by buying space on a natural gas pipeline. The PUC made an identical error when considering a key part of the Northern Pass project.

When the PUC negated Eversource’s power-purchase plan, which would have provided specific cost benefits for New Hampshire, it helped undercut a key factor that should have been taken into account by the state’s Site Evaluation Committee.

That committee, which meets again today, rejected Northern Pass without weighing its substantial electricity cost benefits against the temporary inconvenience of traffic disruptions and the presumed negative effect on tourism from power lines, which would mostly be out of sight.

The old adage that the Supreme Court follows the election results may have also been turned on its head. The PUC and SEC would be wise to follow the court’s decision.

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