ax2groin / Flickr Creative Commons

Power New England, the electricity supplier that was kicked out of the regional market for not 

  paying its bills, has proposed a settlement with regulators. The company has agreed to reimburse customers for the confusion its hasty exit from the market caused. The settlement proposes cutting $9.50 checks  to the roughly 7,300 former PNE customers who were switched to Public Service of New Hampshire. In all the payments will cost PNE around $70,000.

Duke Energy / Flickr Creative Commons

Many Granite State electric customers are scratching their heads after an electricity supplier, Power New England, was abruptly kicked out of the market two weeks ago. Customers of Power New England and its sister company, Resident Power, have had to try to sort out what's going on from media reports where utilities and power suppliers are slinging accusations back forth indiscriminately.

So here’s a breakdown of what has happened to date.

Who are Resident Power and Power New England?

Most New Hampshire utilities are reporting snow related outages.  As of last check, PSNH had the most outages, at around 1,800.  Nearly 450 of those were in Canterbury, while Hooksett got hit with more than 400 outages.  In Deerfield, 190 customers are reportedly without power. 

Snowstorm: Who's Reporting Power Outages?

Feb 24, 2013

Today's snowstorm is set to drop two to four inches across most of the state by tonight.  The Seacoast could see up to six inches.  While it's a slower-moving storm than Nemo two weeks ago, numerous power outages have been reported.  By 12:25 pm, these are the communities that have been impacted most.

PSNH: 2,747

The state’s Public Utilities Commission is planning to investigate whether PSNH is charging consumers too much for electricity.

In an order issued Friday afternoon the state’s Public Utilities Commission says it wants to know more about how Public Service of New Hampshire is operating and how that affects consumers and the state.

In particular the commission says it will investigate “how PSNH proposes to maintain safe and reliable service” and “just and reasonable rates” in light of market conditions.

  The city of Franklin will hire a lobbyist this legislative session to follow the Northern Pass project.

The town stands to gain about $4.2 million dollars annually in property taxes, if the Northern Pass project goes through.  The taxes would be paid by PSNH on a converter station, which will be built in Franklin.

Elizabeth Dragon, the city manager of Franklin, says the city is looking for someone to follow relevant legislation and alert Franklin officials when necessary, “so that if there is a bill that requires us to travel to Concord to testify, we can do that.”

By the end of 2013 the new biomass plant in Berlin should be operating and putting about $25 million a year into the forest economy, says Scott Tranchemontagne, a spokesman for the facility’s owners, Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth.

Wednesday morning a key part of the facility arrived, a 132-ton steam turbine carried on a transporter that is 175-feet long and has 74 wheels.

Powered by 750,000 tons of woodchips each year, the Burgess BioPower plant is expected to provide 75 megawatts of power to Public Service of New Hampshire.

White Lines
James Lee / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report from the state's Public Utilities Commission finds PSNH failed to properly prepare for last year’s October snowstorm.  Meanwhile, Unitil was able to effectively restore power to customers following Snowtober. 

Jonathan Lynch / NHPR

A fleet of monstrous blue trucks arrived in Manchester late Wednesday afternoon.

PSNH president Gary Long and Northeast Utilities CEO Tom May were on hand to greet the Hydro Quebec crews.

To see reinforcements come around the corner with these blue trucks is very rewarding

75 two-man crews are slated to be in New Hampshire by Thursday morning, with some crews driving as long as 12 hours to help restore power.

Daniel Dumais is Director of Distribution at Hydro Quebec and was here for the ice storm in 2008.

Flikr Creative Commons / Graysky

Two New Hampshire Energy efficiency programs are teaming up to try to weatherize more New Hampshire homes. The Community Development Finance Authority is combining its weatherization program with Public Service of New Hampshire’s.

Flkr Creative Commons / PSNH

Public Service of New Hampshire has asked for a change in how much it charges consumers for electricity.

PSNH asked the Public Utilities Commission for a ten percent decrease in the price it charges for electricity. But any savings consumers might see would be eaten up by a simultaneous increase in the Stranded Cost Recovery charge.

More than a decade ago, the New Hampshire legislature partially deregulated its electricity market.  The move was supposed to allow residential customers the chance to buy power from companies other than Public Service of New Hampshire, which dominates the state’s electricity market.  But for a long time, nothing really happened.

Flkr Creative Commons / PSNH


For customers of the state’s largest electric utility, Public Service of New Hampshire, electric rates are going up this week. Resident Power, the new utility in town, is using that fact to beat the drums and let New Hampshire residents know they can save money on their electric bills.

That could mean trouble down the line for PSNH.

Utility Merger Could Impact Northern Pass

Apr 10, 2012

After 18 months of federal and state review, Northeast Utilities has completed a $5-billion purchase of Boston-based NStar. The deal makes PSNH’s parent company the largest utility in New England.

During a conference call, CEO Tom May said the acquisition would help his company pursue the Northern Pass project.

"The new NU will, because of the financial strength of the combined companies, actually have credit rating upgrades, which should make it a lot easier to finance this project," said May.

Newly appointed Public Utilities Commissioner Michael Harrington says having a pension from Northeast Utilities is not a good enough reason to disqualify him from hearing a case involving the utility – and so he won’t.

Harrington made the statement in an order he signed Tuesday dismissing a motion arguing that he has an unacceptable conflict of interest.

Environmental groups in New Hampshire and Maine want the EPA to investigate sulfur dioxide emissions at a power plant in Portsmouth.

Sierra Club chapters in the two states are mounting a petition drive.

It asks the EPA to look into the possible effect of the emissions on asthma cases in the Seacoast regions of the two states.

The groups contend that sulfur dioxide emitted by the Schiller Plant could be adding to respiratory illnesses, especially in Maine.

But Martin Murray, spokesman for PSNH says that an examination of the plant isn't necessary.

A house bill that would consider giving the Public Utilities Commission authority to force PSNH to sell its power plants to open up market competition is getting vocal opposition from business leaders and mayors in the state.

Berlin Mayor Paul Grenier says the move will raise electric rates and scare businesses away from his community.

One of the big issues in the New Hampshire business community this legislative session is the push to continue deregulating utilities. The state's current power regulation model is something of a hybrid between old-fashioned regulation and deregulation.

Lynch On Northern Pass

Jan 31, 2012
Chris Jensen for NHPR

The controversial Northern Pass hydro-electric project “cannot happen without local support” and “should not happen with eminent domain,” Gov. Lynch’s said today in his State of the State address.

Here is the paragraph from his speech:

Executive Councilor Ray Burton of Bath says he tried unsuccessfully to keep Meredith Hatfield as the state’s consumer advocate on public utility matters because she has been “independent minded” and helped consumers.

But last week the Republican controlled Executive Council voted 3 – 2 against re-appointing Hatfield who represents consumer interests before the Public Utilities Commission.

PSNH Defends Power Grid

Nov 9, 2011

In the wake of recent power outages after a freak snow storm, Public Service of New Hampshire is defending the quality of its distribution grid.   The electric utility says there are no perfect solutions.

Top state and federal officials have called for public hearings on the factors that left hundreds of thousands of customers without power.  PSNH President Gary Long says he welcomes those hearings.  Long says the power company has invested heavily in its network of poles and wires and the system has never been stronger.


For the first time Public Service of New Hampshire has statewide competition from another utility company. That could be good news for some consumers and bad news for PSNH.

NHPR’s Chris Jensen reports.

In 1996 the state passed a law that gave consumers the right to pick the company from which they wanted to buy electricity.

But the pickings were so slim as to be non-existent.

In short nobody gave Public Service of New Hampshire any statewide competition for residential customers and PSNH currently dominates the market.

Jon Lynch / NHPR

Nearly two days after an unseasonable snow storm, much of the Queen City remains without power.

PSNH estimates that around 31,000 of its customers in Manchester still don’t have electricity.

The difficulty in getting back power to the city comes from the fact that repair crews must work block by block to remove fallen tree limbs and other debris from the power lines.

City officials established a shelter at Memorial High School for those that were worst hit by the storm.

Public Service of New Hampshire is ramping up their efforts to restore power to hundreds of thousands of homes.

PSNH’s President Gary Long says that the storm knocked out more major power lines than any storm in the utility’s history.

Over the past two days crews have restored most of these lines, and now expect that power restoration to individual homes will accelerate.

Long: This snowstorm did more damage for this kind of event than we’ve ever seen by some reports in 140 years.

Public Service of New Hampshire is making modest progress as crews try to restore power to hundreds of thousands. It may take days before everyone has the lights back on. 

The heavy, wet snow and foliage in the trees is why so many homes and business are without power.

PSNH has crews fanned out across the state, including teams from Hydro Quebec and independent contractors.

Company spokesperson Martin Murray says it’s difficult to get as much help as PSNH would like.

Power outages have continued to climb as the day has gone on. But emergency officials believe the worst is probably over.

At its peak, utilities reported 315,000 customers had lost service.

That’s approaching the 2008 Ice Storm record of 420,000.

PSNH has said some customers won’t have power restored for a week.

But Department of Safety spokesperson Jim Van Dongen says he expects many homes and business should have the lights back in a few days.

More than 250,000 customers around New Hampshire are waking up to no power this morning. Last night’s storm has wreaked havoc on the state’s power system.

Unitil reports 40 thousand of its customers in New Hampshire have lost service as 35-40 mile an hour winds along the Seacoast took down power lines in towns like, Seabrook, Hampton and Exeter.

PSNH, the state’s largest utility, has some 185,000 customers without power this morning.

Company spokesperson Mike Skelton says Manchester and Nashua have been hit the hardest.

Public Service of New Hampshire announced today it wants to increase its rates.

NHPR’s Sam Evans-Brown tells us why.

PSNH has asked the Public Utilities commission for a rate increase of a little more than a half cent per kilowatt hour.

For the typical resident that would mean about three dollars and seventy-seven cents more every month.

The hike will pay for a new scrubber designed to clean up emissions from PSNH’s coal burning plant in Bow.