Region’s energy grid operator suspends two independent suppliers

Last modified: 12/26/2013 11:42:35 PM
More than 5,700 households in New Hampshire are about to become Public Service of New Hampshire customers again, after the region’s energy grid operator suspended two independent electricity suppliers on Christmas Eve.

Customers of People’s Power and Gas and Easy Energy of Massachusetts will see no disruption in service – but they may see an increase in the price they pay.

Michael Skelton, a spokesman for PSNH, said that ISO New England, which manages the region’s power grid, typically suspends providers if they are not able to deliver as much electricity as their customers need.

In a statement, Skelton said prices in the regional energy market have been quite volatile recently. The area is heavily reliant on natural gas, of which there is a fixed supply. With winter, demand has spiked, pushing prices up.

“Energy suppliers who have contracts with customers for a fixed, lower price may find themselves in a challenging financial situation,” Skelton said in the statement.

In an interview, Skelton said customers of the suspended suppliers are being transferred seamlessly to electricity supplied by PSNH. Their bills may go up, he said, depending on how high their rates were with the suspended suppliers.

Customers can find another independent supplier, Skelton said, but they will need to remain on PSNH power at least until their next monthly meter reading.

People’s Power and Gas and Easy Energy are the second and third suppliers to be suspended by ISO New England. Last February, about 8,500 customers of Power New England were also transferred to PSNH following that company’s suspension from the energy market.

The circumstances in that case were different, Skelton said, in that Power New England was in the midst of attempting to sell its customer base to FairPoint, another utility. At the time, a part owner of Power New England told the Monitor that the company had encountered a cash flow problem.

Last April, Skelton said, Power New England was allowed to return to the market after paying a settlement of $9.50 to each of its affected customers.

Skelton said PSNH supports competition in the marketplace. However, he added, given three suspensions in a year’s time, it’s important for consumers who want to pursue cheaper power than PSNH can provide to be mindful of the risk of further disruption going forward.

As to whether the companies suspended this week intend to re-enter the New Hampshire market, Skelton said they had given no indication of their plans to PSNH.

Neither People’s Power and Gas nor Easy Energy could be reached late yesterday afternoon.

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