The Bulletin Board

Executive Council tables PUC contract with outside consultant 

By: - July 20, 2023 1:16 pm

With jurisdiction over electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utilities, the PUC’s docketbook for 2023 currently shows 70 dockets. (Getty Images)

The Executive Council unanimously tabled a contract between the Public Utilities Commission and a Washington, D.C.-based economic consulting firm over price concerns. The PUC says the contract is necessary to “adequately analyze its workload of dockets.”

PUC Chairman Daniel Goldner told councilors on Wednesday that not moving forward with the contract could put the commission “in jeopardy” of not meeting its statutory requirements, citing a high workload for the second half of the year. 

With jurisdiction over electric, natural gas, water, and sewer utilities, the PUC’s docketbook for 2023 currently shows 70 dockets.

The PUC sought to contract with Bates White, LLC, an outside contractor with experience in utility analysis, for $153,750. According to paperwork submitted to the Executive Council, Bates White would provide as-needed consulting services related to utility analysis, data collection, extraction, cleaning, and modeling through July 2025. 

Specifically, the company would be expected to conduct financial analysis of books and records of utility companies; market analysis related to costs of utility services, including a report and accompanying dashboard; technical analysis of legislative proposals affecting the PUC; and analysis of utility capital asset planning, integrated resource plans, data platform, demand response, and energy efficiency approaches.

The PUC issued a request for proposals in March for a consultant and received two bids. Bates White was the only submission determined to be “a fully qualified proposal.” 

Bates White describes itself as “an economic consulting firm offering analysis and expert testimony services to law firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies.”

Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington questioned the cost, saying, “I don’t think we should be paying twice the reasonable price for services.”

In reviewing the contract, Warmington said she identified the price was “very high” and decided to get other opinions. 

“I then reached out to various experts in this area about the company itself and what I was told is that this is a very reputable company that does work around the country,” she said. “However, they’ve never been used in New Hampshire and probably because their rate is about twice what we have historically paid for these same services in the state of New Hampshire.” 

Warmington asked why the PUC didn’t seek additional bids and encouraged them to do so. Goldner cited a time crunch, and that the commission needed to move forward with its workload. 

The Executive Council unanimously tabled the contract. 

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Hadley Barndollar
Hadley Barndollar

Hadley Barndollar covers climate, energy, environment, and the opioid crisis for the New Hampshire Bulletin. Previously, she was the New England regional reporter for the USA TODAY Network and was named Reporter of the Year by the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Email: [email protected]