Rivals pleased with power measure

Competitors of Public Service of New Hampshire are pleased that lawmakers seem to have blocked the regulated utility from building a plant in the North Country.

Meredith Hatfield, a spokesman for Tamarack Energy, said House Bill 1690, if it passes this week, would preserve the state policy of energy deregulation. She said it would hurt all the unregulated merchant power plants to let one company add new megawatts with a huge financial edge — a guaranteed profit. Her firm plans to partner with New Energy Capital of Hanover to build or buy a plant that burns North Country wood.

“Tamarack is excited about this opportunity to do something up north,” she said. “We’ll be happy if all the 1690 issues are finished after Wednesday. Our focus can be getting something done. If PSNH had gotten to come in with a rate-based plant, we would have rethought our plans to do business in New Hampshire.”

Susan Geiger, a lobbyist for the Granite Ridge power plant in Londonderry, said the bill now levels the playing field by taking away PSNH’s cost-recovery advantage.

“It’s fair,” she said.

Current law lets PSNH build a new rate-based plant only to replace existing production the same size.

Four existing wood-fired plants also look like State House losers. Bridgewater Energy in Ashland, Pinetree Power in Bethlehem, Pinetree Power in Tamworth and Hemphill Power in Springfield have enjoyed favorable long-term contracts to supply PSNH with electricity, but those deals lapse this year and next.

Their proposed amendment would have forced PSNH to extend their pacts another two years at 9.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, an above-market rate. That rider died. A conference committee member, Sen. Peter Burling, D-Cornish, said it never had a chance in either house. Now those plants could become acquisition targets. – CHRIS DORNIN/GOLDEN DOME NEWS

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