National Grid’s proposed pipeline tariff, now under an indefinite stay per the Public Utilities Commission here in Rhode Island, was rejected in New Hampshire last week. The controversial and complicated plan, which would make electricity ratepayers in New England financially responsible for the creation and profitability of a new fracked gas pipeline, involves multiple companies working together across multiple states. Here’s a description from the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission:
“Eversource is a public utility headquartered in Manchester, operating under the laws of the State of New Hampshire as an electric distribution company (EDC). Algonquin is an owner-operator of an interstate gas pipeline located in New England. Algonquin is owned by a parent company, Spectra Energy Corp (Spectra), a publicly-traded corporation headquartered in Houston, Texas. Algonquin has partnered with Eversource’s corporate parent, Eversource Energy, headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, and Hartford, Connecticut, and with National Grid, the parent company of EDC subsidiaries in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, to develop the Access Northeast pipeline. In general terms, Eversource Energy’s EDC subsidiaries in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire and National Grid’s EDC subsidiaries in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, are each individually seeking regulatory approval of gas capacity on the Access Northeast pipeline.”
When the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled against National Grid’s pipeline tariff in Massachusetts, the Conservation Law Foundation brought a motion to dismiss the proposal here in Rhode Island. Instead, the PUC issued an indefinite stay in the proceedings, with the caveat that National Grid file a progress report on January 13, 2017.
Last week the New Hampshire PUC ruled against their state’s involvement in the plan, writing,
“The proposal before us would have Eversource purchase long-term gas pipeline capacity to be used by gas-fired electric generators, and include the net costs of its purchases and sales in its electric distribution rates. That proposal, however, goes against the overriding principle of restructuring, which is to harness the power of competitive markets to reduce costs to consumers by separating unregulated generation from fully regulated distribution. It would allow Eversource to reenter the generation market for an extended period, placing the risk of that decision on its customers. We cannot approve such an arrangement under existing laws. Accordingly, we dismiss Eversource’s petition.
“We acknowledge that the increased dependence on natural gas-fueled generation plants within the region and the constraints on gas capacity during peak periods of demand have resulted in electric price volatility. Eversource’s proposal is an interesting one, with the potential to reduce that volatility; but it is an approach that, in practice, would violate New Hampshire law following the restructuring of the electric industry. If the General Court believes EDCs should be allowed to make long-term commitments to purchase gas capacity and include the costs in distribution rates, the statutes can be amended to permit such activities.”
The Maine Public Utilities commission has voted in favor of the pipeline tariff.