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Public Utilities Commission rejects Eversource request for help buying electricity

Sam Evans-Brown

New Hampshire’s Public Utilities Commission has denied a request from Eversource to get involved in their upcoming auction for electricity to serve New Hampshire customers.

The utility company asked state regulators to get more involved in their power purchasing process earlier this month, saying there are signs that energy markets are failing.

That could pose new challenges in December, when Eversource is scheduled to make new contracts to buy electricity for Granite Staters. The company is in charge of delivering power, but does not generate its own electricity, so twice a year it makes contracts for the power customers will need over the next six months.

In other states, Eversource said, they didn’t get enough bids, or the bids they got were unacceptably expensive.

The company wanted the Public Utilities Commission and other state officials to sit in the room with them during a confidential meeting on the day of the auction to advise on what to do, if those situations come up.

The state’s Department of Energy and the Consumer Advocate strongly opposed that idea, saying it’s Eversource’s responsibility to manage how they buy power. Don Kreis, the consumer advocate, called the proposal “illegal and inappropriate” earlier this month and noted it could create a conflict with the Commissioner’s role as regulators, who must approve electricity rates.

In a Tuesday order, state regulators say their participation would violate New Hampshire’s Right-To-Know law, which specifies that public bodies like the Public Utilities Commission must have all of their meetings open to the public.

Commissioners also said they had faith in Eversource’s ability to use their usual process for procuring power and make decisions regarding which bids to accept. They encouraged the company to engage in a second round of bidding, if the first one fails.

The auction is scheduled for Dec. 6.

Corrected: November 23, 2022 at 2:57 PM EST
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the day of the week the Public Utilities Commission issued its order.
Mara Hoplamazian reports on climate change, energy, and the environment for NHPR.
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