Eversource has filed an appeal with New Hampshire’s Supreme Court to overturn a regulatory decision on the company’s proposal to purchase natural gas pipeline capacity to be used to create electricity. The additional gas would be made available by the expansion of an existing pipeline and used to power New England’s electric generating stations.
“We’ve been hearing loud and clear from business and residential customers about the need to lower and stabilize prices,” said Bill Quinlan, New Hampshire operations president for Eversource. “Expanding the supply of gas into New England is one of the necessary actions that must occur as part of the effort to reduce energy costs and ensure reliability. We believe it’s important that proposals like this one have the opportunity to be fully considered.”
Eversource has estimated significant customer savings in the cost of electricity if the “Access Northeast” gas pipeline expansion project, jointly proposed by Eversource, Spectra Energy and National Grid, takes place and relieves existing pipeline constraints. In its October 6, 2016 decision, the N.H. Public Utilities Commission acknowledged that the Eversource proposal to purchase gas capacity on the project has the potential to reduce electric price volatility that is caused by increased demand for natural gas, but ruled the agreement is not allowed, as a result of restrictions enacted in the state’s 1996 electric restructuring law.
In its appeal, Eversource focuses on that legal question, pointing out that the overriding purpose of the restructuring of New Hampshire’s electric utilities was to reduce electricity rates, and therefore proposals that would reduce customer energy costs should not be restricted.
Eversource has indicated that after taking into account the cost of the pipeline, the net benefits to New England’s electric consumers from the Access Northeast pipeline expansion project could range from $900 million to $1.3 billion per year on average, under normal weather conditions, with New Hampshire’s customers receiving approximately 10 percent of those expected savings, about $100 million per year.