The state’s largest electric company has asked for a winter price hike. Even after the increase Public Service of New Hampshire will still have the lowest winter rate of any utility in the state.
PSNH has asked regulators for an energy rate of 10.56 six cents per kilowatt hour, an increase from the current rate of 9.87 cents per kWh. The utility estimates that for an average rate-payer, using between 500 and 700 kWh per month, bills will rise somewhere between $5 and $8.
The question of who will pay the cost of cleaning up emissions from the state’s largest coal-fired power plant is before the Public Utilities Commission this week.
“The issue that we’re facing here today is that as a result of increases of costs of commodities as well as increases in the engineering complexity of what we had to build, the price was higher than a lot of people expected it to be,” said PSNH’s lead attorney Bob Bersak.
Lawmakers, energy developers, and policy wonks descended on downtown Concord today for the annual New Hampshire Energy summit. The event couldn’t come at a more appropriate time, last week New Hampshire electric utilities – with the notable exception of the state’s largest, Public Service of New Hampshire – announced winter rate hikes ranging from twelve to fifty percent.
Public Service of New Hampshire says that its former CEO, Gary Long, died Friday afternoon after a sudden illness.
Long started at PSNH in 1976, and began his tenure as CEO in 2000. He led the state’s largest utility at a time when the state restructured the electric utility industry. He stepped down as CEO last year to take a role leading the Northern Pass project through the regulatory process. He was also serving as chair of the board of directors for the Granite United Way.
According to new numbers filed with the state’s Public Utilities Commission, a little less than 56 percent of the electricity sold to consumers in the service territory of the state’s largest utility, Public Service of New Hampshire, came from competitive suppliers. That number peaked at 58 percent last October before dropping to 49 percent in February thanks to soaring winter electric market prices.
“This could be a plateau, we did see some leveling off of the migration numbers in late 2013, and then we saw a big reversal,” says Martin Murray, PSNH spokesman.
Customers of the state’s largest electric utility are set to get a tiny reprieve in their bills. Public Service of New Hampshire’s latest rate filing forecasts the average customer will save 31 cents a month, despite rising energy costs.
New Hampshire’s largest utility estimates customers will see a two percent average rate hike this year. Public Service of New Hampshire filed its rate adjustment forecast with the Public Utilities Commission Friday. PSNH says higher energy prices over the winter and continued volatility in the market could translate into higher power bills. The utility has not yet requested a rate change from the PUC.
LaCapra estimates that compared to a $500 million "book value" Merrimack station would sell for somewhere around $10 million, or 2% of it's value. Schiller Station could see a similar mark down, at 6.5% of it's value.
An independent assessment commissioned by electrical regulators has released a preliminary report that finds some of Public Service of New Hampshire’s fossil-fired plants hold little market value. The report agrees with what staff at the Public Utilities Commission said last year.
This winter’s cold weather has proven a boon to Public Service of New Hampshire and its customers. Spikes in the price of natural gas have lifted regional electric prices, making PSNH’s rates competitive again.
PSNH says during most of the winter it was able to more cheaply produce electricity using its fleet of power plants than buying it on the open market and this saved the company $115 million dollars, savings which will be passed on to customers.
The New Hampshire House appears poised to send the question of whether the state's largest utility should sell its power plants to regulators.
In 2012, lawmakers tried to force PSNH to sell its power plants outright, but that effort stalled in the New Hampshire house. So this time around they’ve written a bill that asks the Public Utilities Commission to rule on whether that sale would eventually lower electric rates.
That bill got near unanimous support during a committee hearing Thursday, including from PSNH itself.
ISO New England, the region’s energy grid operator, has suspended the independent supplier People’s Power and Gas. 5,700 Granite State customers who turned to PPG for lower rates will be automatically switched to prices set by Public Service of New Hampshire.
Today Public Service of New Hampshire launched its Electric Vehicle Hotline, where consumers can find out about electric cars currently on the market. The move comes as electric car sales have begun to pick up, and utilities see those drivers as a sales opportunity.