CLF has intervened in proceedings regarding the proposed merger of Northeast Utilities (NU) and NSTAR, which combined would create the third largest utility in the country and the largest in New England. CLF has intervened in the proceedings before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to ensure that the merger will only be allowed to go forward if it is “consistent with the public interest.” This will require a thoughtful analysis of the merged utility’s long-term strategies for delivering energy while fully meeting the greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements of the MA Global Warming Solutions Act and Green Communities Act. It also will require a close look at the economic and environmental risks posed by the energy generation assets that would be owned by the merged utility.
One of CLF’s concerns is that NU subsidiary Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) owns and depends upon outdated, inefficient coal- and oil-fired power plants. These plants – which are obsolete and increasingly more expensive and less economic to operate – present risks and liabilities that would be spread to NSTAR’s ratepayers if the merger goes forward. Another concern is that the merged utility might seek to weaken Massachusetts’ renewable energy standards, as suggested in some of the utilities’ public statements, allowing large hydropower to “flood” the market (pun intended!) and chill development of other renewable energy sources such as small wind and solar facilities.
Currently, the procedural schedule for the merger proceeding pending before the Massachusetts DPU has been suspended while the DPU considers whether to modernize the legal standard it will apply. CLF and other parties have asked that the legal standard be adapted to account for changes in relevant laws, including the Global Warming Solutions Act and Green Communities Act.
Stay tuned as we await the DPU’s ruling and further action in the merger proceeding!