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Groups Agree: Time To Decide What To Do With PSNH Plants

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.

“These are dramatic times in the energy market. Dealing with these issues is extremely complicated and we believe that the PUC is a good place for us to deal with these facts and these issues,” said Bill Smagula, Public Service’s Vice President for Generation

PSNH competitors, environmental groups, and business groups, agreed it’s time to finish the argument about PSNH’s plants, once and for all.

Some also feel that the long fight over PSNH’s power plants has taken all of the room in New Hampshire for discussing other possible changes.

“We’re missing out on lots of innovation,” said Susan Chamberlain, the state’s consumer advocate, listing a variety of changes occurring elsewhere in the energy industry, like smart-grids and time-of-use rates, “all of this doesn’t get discussed because we simply don’t have the time and the resources to do anything other than argue about these plants.”

When asked what time-table for a decision would be appropriate, a PUC representative said a ruling might be possible nine-months from the passage of the bill.

Sam Evans-Brown has been working for New Hampshire Public Radio since 2010, when he began as a freelancer. He shifted gears in 2016 and began producing Outside/In, a podcast and radio show about “the natural world and how we use it.” His work has won him several awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow awards, one national Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club of America's award for best environmental reporting in any medium. He studied Politics and Spanish at Bates College, and before reporting was variously employed as a Spanish teacher, farmer, bicycle mechanic, ski coach, research assistant, a wilderness trip leader and a technical supporter.

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