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Cold Weather To Boost PSNH Bid To Hang On To Power Plants

Sam Evans-Brown

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.

“I don’t think think this is a weather phenomenon,” says spokesman Martin Murray, “Anecdotally we all think this winter has been brutal and very cold, the weather service tells us this is basically an old fashioned winter, and we may see more of those.”

When the temperature drops, more natural gas is burned for heat, which constricts the supply available for electricity and drives up prices.

PSNH’s plants have run infrequently in recent years driving up the company’s electric rates and, prompting legislative action. A bill directing regulators to study the question of whether to force Public Service to sell its power plants passed the House Tuesday. Murray says this winter will help bolster PSNH’s case that the plants should remain in utility hands.

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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