New Hampshire PUC refuses to delay Eversource power plant auction process

The New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission on Dec. 23 denied a request by several municipalities for reconsideration and a stay of a Nov. 10 order approving the auction design recommended by the commission’s auction advisor, J.P. Morgan, for the Eversource Energy power plants in the state.

This docket was established to conduct the sale of the fossil and hydro electric generation facilities owned by Public Service Co. of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource Energy.

On Dec. 9, the City of Berlin and the Towns of Gorham and New Hampton (together the Municipalities) filed a joint motion for reconsideration and stay. On Dec. 15, Eversource filed an objection to that joint motion.

The Municipalities claimed, among other things, that this docket did not afford them sufficient process and did not comply with state code. Specifically, they claim they were entitled to discovery, including data requests, technical sessions, depositions, and any other discovery method permissible in civil proceedings, when necessary to enable parties to acquire admissible evidence. The Municipalities argue that JPM has presented conclusory and unsupported assertions in support of its auction design. Specifically, the Municipalities question JPM’s statements concerning use of ascending clock auctions for electric generating facilities, grouping of hydro facilities separately from the fossil facilities, delaying bids by Municipalities until May 1, 2017, setting a reserve price, and allowing the Municipalities into a final negotiation process.

Said the Dec. 23 rejection order: “The process we have offered has allowed the Municipalities ample opportunity to present their concerns. We do not believe further litigation will solve their problems. … JPM advises us that the market for these assets is favorable at this time. Further delay will only add risk that conditions in the market will shift. Given these considerations, we deny the stay requested by the Municipalities.”

The auction process approved by the commission established a timetable that includes:

  • Mid-December 2016 to early-January 2017: circulation of confidentiality agreements to qualified Round 1 bidders.
  • Early January 2017: circulation of confidential information memorandum to qualified Round 1 bidders.
  • Mid-to-late February 2017: Submission of preliminary non-binding offers.
  • Early-to-mid March 2017: Selection of Round 2 bidders, with Round 2 bidders being given access to due diligence material and tours of PSNH’s facilities.
  • Early-to-mid May, 2017: Submission of bids from Round 2 bidders.

The PSNH power plants subject to this sale process are:

Fossil Fuel

  • Merrimack Station, Bow, Coal, 439 MW.
  • Newington Station, Newington, oil and/or natural gas, 400 MW.
  • Schiller Station, Portsmouth, coal or oil at two units; biomass at one unit, 150 MW total.

Hydroelectric – 69 MW total

  • Amoskeag Hydro, Manchester
  • Ayers Island, Bristol
  • Canaan Hydro, West Stewartstown
  • Eastman Falls, Franklin
  • Garvins Falls, Bow
  • Gorham Hydro, Gorham
  • Hooksett Hydro, Hooksett
  • Jackman Hydro, Hillsborough
  • Smith Hydro, Berlin
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.