In an important case involving electric retail competition, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has made a series of legal rulings favoring a proposal by Freedom Electric Power Co. to purchase and resell power to end users currently served by Public Service Co. of New Hampshire (PSNH). The PUC ruled that franchises granted to electric utilities in the state are not exclusive and that the proposed activities would make the energy company a public utility if approved and implemented. In its decision, the PUC focused on a "unique state constitutional directive" in favor of free markets and competition.
While postponing a final decision on allowing the proposed competitive service, pending further investigation, the PUC did point to a "thriving market of nonutility sources of generation" to support its conclusion that competition need not duplicate facilities or waste economic resources.
The PUC had earlier required Freedom to file detailed business plans and technical and financial specifications for its proposal to purchase wholesale power for delivery to the PSNH transmission system and then sell the power at retail to end users in close proximity to PSNH's transmission lines. The latest PUC findings set the stage for a review of whether to permit retail competition in the electric industry. The order also clears the way for Freedom to petition the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for access to PSNH's transmission system.