The Bulletin Board

Consumer advocate challenges decision on $5 million Clean Energy Fund

By: - February 17, 2022 1:43 pm
An electric meter on a green metal box

The funds have been available since 2018. (Dana Wormald | New Hampshire Bulletin)

Years of inaction on a $5 million Clean Energy Fund culminated in a decision this month to enact only half of a consensus plan to spend the money, an outcome the consumer advocate is challenging.

Funds have been available since 2018 but have not been deployed. Consumer Advocate Don Kreis called the decision unconscionable in a letter requesting a hearing before the Public Utilities Council.

The fund itself was a concession from a 2016 settlement agreement, when Public Service Company of New Hampshire (which became part of Eversource, now the state’s largest utility) was allowed to charge ratepayers $400 million of the $425 million it had spent installing a scrubber on the Merrimack Station, the coal-fired power plant in Bow. PSNH was required to sell that power plant as a part of restructuring, another issue addressed in that same agreement.

“The commission long ago squandered its opportunity to prevent the wasteful construction of the scrubber at Merrimack Station,” Kreis wrote. “The utilities and the ratepayers subsequently resolved their differences over the scrubber, in part by persuading PSNH to create the $5 million Clean Energy Fund that should have started helping people in the PSNH service territory four years ago.”

Rather, in its February decision, the fate of $2.35 million of the fund was shuttled into another docket, extending the administrative process. 

In its February decision, the utilities commission approved a $1.1 million program to finance clean energy upgrades and a $750,000 battery rebate program for Eversource residential customers, in addition to a $1 million energy storage rebate program for commercial and industrial customers. 

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee reported on energy and environment for New Hampshire Bulletin. She also previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.