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

Mar 25, 2014

PSNH says Merrimack station has contributed to 2/3 of the $115 million the utility saved by running its own power plants.
Credit Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

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.