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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Electric costs again before Legislature
A meeting last week of the Electric Utility Restructuring Oversight Committee was eerily similar to legislative hearings two decades ago when lawmakers clashed with the state's electric utilities over how best to deregulate or restructure the electric industry.
The separation did not quite come to fruition in New Hampshire because of what was happening at the time in California, where price spikes and rolling blackouts resulted when Enron and other large electric suppliers manipulated the market.
For much of the last 20 years, Public Service's power price has been competitive for small-business and residential customers, and few alternative suppliers were willing to wade into the market.
Today, more than half of New England's power is produced by natural gas, whose price has fallen to record lows.
As a result, electric costs have fallen, and Public Service's fossil-fuel generating plants cost much more per kilowatt hour to operate and maintain than the going rate in the New England market.
But with more and more small businesses and residential customers leaving Public Service, the cost has gone up for those remaining with the company on what is known as default service.
One of the main reasons for the high rates is a $422 million emission scrubber at Merrimack Station that began operating about two years ago.
Public Service worked with lawmakers in 2006 on a law mandating the scrubber as part of a program to significantly reduce mercury emissions. As a result, Public Service claims it legally can recover 100 percent of its investment.
In defending his company's position that the power plants are needed, Long laid out four or five reasons why electric rates were high, and all were attributable to what lawmakers or state regulators had done.
There is obviously a lot of blood in the water right now.
Like 20 years ago, this is not going to be an easy or quick fight, but both sides know time is short as more and more Public Service costumers leave for other power suppliers and the cost for those remaining customers goes up.
According to the Friends of Jeanne Shaheen email, written Friday by Kari Thurman: "For Brown, who's said he 'isn't ruling out' running against Jeanne, this is his fifth trip here in the last four months. He's also got Karl Rove talking him up in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.
Shaheen has already raised several millions dollars for her reelection effort, while there are no officially announced candidates on the Republican side, although Bradley, former state Sen. Jim Rubens and former gubernatorial candidate Karen Testerman are exploring a run.
Fraser served five terms in the Senate from 1991 to 2000 and served three terms in the House, where he chaired the Commerce Committee.
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