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Kilowatts by Choice, Ready or Not

Fortnightly Magazine - November 1 1997

New Hampshire (em Out of Category?

AN EARLY LEAD. The state of New Hampshire took the lead in February when it OK'd direct access for electric customers, but has since seen the process bog down over its insistence that utilities should not automatically recover all stranded costs. On March 3, Northeast Utilities (parent company of Public Service Company of New Hampshire) appealed the PUC decision to the U.S. District Court in Concord. The court issued a temporary restraining order in April to postpone the appeal until after the PUC had completed its rehearing process. (See, PSNH v. Patch, et al., Civ. Action Nos. 97-97-j, et al., Apr. 28, 1997, 1997 wl 216415, to be reported at 962 F.Supp. 222 [D.N.H.].)

Utility Bankruptcy? NU claims that the restructuring rules, if enforced, could lead to bankruptcy for NU subsidiaries Public Service Company of New Hampshire and North Atlantic Energy Corp. The PUC is not a party to the suit, and thus has attempted to move forward with the rehearing process on its deregulation plan. During the summer, however, PSNH succeeded for a while in delaying the PUC proceedings. Acting on requests from PSNH, the PUC in a series of orders agreed to suspend portions of the final plan subject to rehearing (Order No. 22,548), accept additional testimony and evidence (Order No. 22,576), accept a mediation process conducted through the court (stipulation filed May 13). Rehearing was eventually suspended until July 2 (Order No. 22,599) and again to Sept. 2 (Order No. 22,664).

Back on Track. In August, the PUC denied a motion by PSNH for any further delay in the rehearing process beyond Sept. 2. In doing so, the PUC appeared

to be losing patience: "[T]he issue before us is whether we should continue to abstain from moving forward with policy directive that we are required to implement by law" (Order No. 22,681). The PUC was expected to issue its rehearing order this fall.

Electric Restructuring on the Internet

NRRI. The National Regulatory Research Institute at Ohio State University summarizes regulatory and legislative action in all 50 states and the District of Columbia at www.nrri.ohio-state.edu (updated monthly).

Trade Associations. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Assoc. offers its "Retail Wheeling Update" on the Internet. The September 1997 update was posted at www.nreca.org/news/retailwheel/ret_wh0997.html.

Consultants. GDS Associates Inc. updates deregulation activity and requests for proposals for wholesale power at www.gdsassoc.com (updated weekly, or as needed). Hagler Bailly ("ACCESS Index: Deciphering Retail Energy Competition") ranks each state according to electric and gas restructuring activity. (Issued quarterly for public domain at www.habaco.com; more detailed information available under a license agreement. Contact Ken Malloy at 703-351-0300 for more information.)

Others. The LEAP Letter, a newsletter that reports state legislative activity in electric restructuring, presents a "Comparison of Selected Electric Restructuring Legislation," a point-by-point comparison of the eight state-level bills (California, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) that have been signed into law to date at www.spratley.com/leap/state-laws.html.

1Re Proposed Policies Governing Restructuring California's Electric Services Industry and Reforming Regulation, Decision 97-05-040, May 6, 1977 177