Garry Rayno's State House Dome: PSNH says customers owe $57m more
Some years, the utility credits customers for overcharging them in the previous year by lowering rates. But most years, rates increase because Public Service did not charge customers enough to cover expenses.
Some of the items on the list include a revenue shortfall of $11.7 million created by power customers buying their electricity from alternative suppliers. The company had counted on the revenue to break even.
However, the state consumer advocate is contesting about $21 million of the charges Public Service wants customers to pay.
"We don't have it. It may be somewhere, but we haven't found it," she said, noting that the way in which NU allocates the charges is up to the company, but there has to be an affiliate agreement.
Chamberlin cited the "use and useful" provision, which says utilities cannot collect on their assets unless they are used and useful.
Because the low price of natural gas has driven down the cost of generating electricity, Public Service's coal- and oil-burning plants cannot meet the price and are not called on to produce electricity except in peak-demand situations.
Another issue raised by Chamberlin's office is the sale of fuel oil the company stockpiled at Newington Station from 2009 until it was sold in 2012. The company purchased the oil for $7.7 million and adds $2.7 million for its rate of return for a total cost of $10.4 million. When it was sold, the company received $8.4 million, and it seeks to recover $2 million from customers for the difference.
"We have questions as to whether the sale was in residential ratepayers' best interest," Chamberlin said.
Public Service declined to respond to the Office of Consumer Advocate's concerns.
"We are actually due to provide discovery questions relative to the OCA testimony (Wednesday)," said Public Service spokesman Martin Murray. "Technical hearings will be in December. Until we have a chance to learn more through the discovery process, we do not have any comment at this time."
JUVENILE NO LONGER: During former Gov. Steve Merrill's administration, there were several high-profile murders committed by people younger than 18.
At the same time, several juveniles were arrested bringing large quantities of drugs into the state. Drug dealers used juveniles as mules because they would only spend a short time in detention and then be set free when they turned 18.
For all those reasons, Merrill pushed and lawmakers agreed to lower New Hampshire's age to 17, as well.
House Bill 525 was retained by the House Children and Family Law Committee, and last week the committee voted, 15-0, that it ought to pass.
Others argued judges are often reluctant to sentence 17-year-olds to prison, so they never have to pay the price for the crimes they do commit.
With New Hampshire now only one of nine states with the 17-year-old age of majority, chances are the House will look favorably on the change.
The bill will be heard during one of the first three days of the 2014 session.
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MEDICAID FALLOUT: A poll done by New England College indicates New Hampshire voters think the state should have expanded Medicaid by a 52-32 margin, with independent or undeclared voters favoring expansion by a 51-23 margin.
No surprise that 84 percent of Democrats polled favor expansion, or that 52 percent of Republicans oppose it.
Most of the votes in the House and Senate last week were down party lines.
"Over the last week, Senate Republicans have tried to mislead you about wanting to expand Medicaid for 50,000 low-income Granite Staters," wrote Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester. "They had the audacity to tell us they want a compromise on Medicaid expansion, but their actions spoke louder than words. They defeated a bipartisan proposal passed with bipartisan support by the House. They killed a Senate bill proposed by Democrats. And they even stopped a bill written by the Republican Senate president."