Letter: Northern Pass and electricity rates

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

I agree with Franklin Mayor Tony Giunta that electric rates in New Hampshire are too high (Monitor Forum, March 3). Much of this is due to poor decisions by what used to be called PSNH, such as their Seabrook nuclear power plant that was supposedly too cheap to meter that became too expensive to afford, and the overpriced Bow scrubber that never made any sense for ratepayers but they built anyway because investors were guaranteed 10 percent return even if the plant shut down. Their latest boondoggle is called Northern Pass.

Northern Pass has never actually quoted a lower electric rate and will presumably sell its certifiably green power for more than regular power or there would be no benefit to the certification. The lower electric rates supposedly will come from their competitors, who will allegedly reduce rates due to a glut of non-green power. This assumes that electricity demand won’t increase to need the added power, and that competitors will not reduce capacity when rates fall before their cost. And of course the same lower rates would come about with less negative effect on New Hampshire if Massachusetts got its renewable power from somebody other than Northern Pass.

There is a bill in the Legislature backed by the state consumer advocate to set the taxable value of utility property at its book value, so Northern Pass could be exempt from property tax in 10 years or so if it took accelerated depreciation. Mayor Giunta, be sure to insist on a backup payment in lieu of taxes.