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Business and Economy

Energy Retailer PPG Suspended, Customers To Pay Original Provider Rates

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.

Grid operator ISO New England suspended PPG on Christmas Eve and the billing change will have taken effect on December 27th.

PSNH spokesman Mike Skelton.

“Whatever obligations they owe to ISO, whatever funds or financial collateral they owe to ISO, they have to cure that before they can reenter the ISO market. And then, they may have to also have some sort of process play out with the PUC.”

Skelton says customers affected by this change will not experience any loss of service during the transition.

ISO does not comment on suspensions but they are usually the result of a supplier failing to meet its financial requirements. And fluctuations in energy prices have made it riskier for energy retailers to compete.

More than 50,000 residential consumers have signed on with independent energy suppliers since last year. The first independent supplier to be temporarily suspended was Power New England, last February. Price volatility played a part in that as well.

What’s behind the price fluctuations? The supply of natural gas. Ironically, growing dependence on cheap natural gas for energy generation in New England (now exceeding half of all sources) was created by a new boom in supply thanks to fracking and horizontal drilling. But the prices are unstable due to a lack of supply. The gas is there, and now we can get to it. The trick is distributing it to everyone who needs it.

The CEO of ISO New England has said the rapid shift from oil and coal to natural gas over the past decade has left the gas delivery infrastructure struggling to catch up. So when demand spikes during the coldest days of winter, energy producers are all turning on the faucet to the same, inadequate pipeline. In the worst cases, they may need to turn to more expensive energy sources.

For questions about PPG’s suspension, call the consumer affairs office at NH PUC: 1-800-852-3793

***Update 12/27

New Hampshire Electric Co-op says about 180 of their customers were affected by the suspension of PPG. They were switched to NHEC prices. About 130 customers with Unitil were transitioned from PPG to Unitil prices.

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