PSNH ‘power migration’ rate tops 37%

Business customers in Public Service of New Hampshire’s service area continue to choose to buy their power elsewhere, according to the latest figures released last week.The percentage of power sold by PSNH competitors to the companies in the utility’s service area, increased from 34.82 percent at the end of April to 37.73 percent at the end of June. In May 2010, PSNH told the Public Utilities Commission so-called “power migration” rate was 31.9 percent.Almost all (99.7 percent) of residential customers still buy their power from PSNH, and less then a fifth of that power is diverted.The biggest desertion comes among the utility’s 91 largest customers. About 78.5 percent of those buy their power elsewhere, and they represent 93.3 percent of the all the power sold by PSNH in that category. Of the 802 mid-size customers, 56.5 percent have fled with about 65.4 percent of the power. Among small businesses, 12 percent of customers have left, bringing over a quarter of the power sold at that level.As reported in the July 1-14 issue of NHBR, (As large customers flee PSNH, what can the utility do?), the migration issue is at the center of a PUC docket looking into on the matter. PSNH wants to charge those leaving not just to pay for distribution costs (line costs) but for the infrastructure involved in maintaining PSNH power generation assets.PSNH competitors, however, say it is time for the utility to sell off the rest of its power-generating assets and make it easier for residents and smaller business to shop elsewhere.A decision on the docket is due any day now, but whatever the PUC says, the Legislature is bound to weigh in.Indeed on Monday, Rep. James Michael Garrity, chair of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee, already did weigh in on the PSNH case, asking that the commission deny the utility’s request, saying that it undermines the “competitive advantage of consumer choice.””Clearly, PSNH is requesting a significant policy change which can only be made by the Legislature, not by the commission,” Garrity wrote, adding that there is proposed legislation planned for 2012 that will examine moving New Hampshire’s electricity market toward total restructuring. — BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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