Eversource Will Sell 14 New Hampshire Power Plants, Completing Deregulation

Fourteen power plants in New Hampshire, including nine hydroelectric facilities, will soon have new owners as Eversource Energy divests its holdings in the state to satisfy an agreement with state regulators. Eversource outlined the sale of the hydro assets, along with three fossil fuel-fired plants and two combustion peaker units, in an October 12 filing with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC).

The NHPUC is expected to approve the deal, with the transactions expected to close by year-end 2017 or in early 2018. As part of the agreement, the new owners must keep the plants in service for at least 18 months. The ownership change will mark the completion of electric deregulation in New Hampshire and bring rate adjustments to customers in the first half of 2018, according to an Eversource spokesman, who said the Eversource plants were the last operated by a regulated utility in New England.

Eversource now will purchase electricity on the wholesale market, which the utility said will lower rates for its customers.

New Hampshire established an electric restructuring law in 1996. Other utilities sold their plants in the state over the next few years, and Eversource has been the only utility in New England that owns coal, gas, oil and wood generation plants over the past 15 years. The Eversource spokesman said the utility was developing a plan to divest its assets when New Hampshire lawmakers halted the process in 2014. Eversource then agreed to sell the plants when the company, along with regulators, signed the Public Service Company of New Hampshire Restructuring and Rate Stabilization Agreement in 2015. A year after the 2015 restructuring agreement, the NHPUC established a power plant auction process for Eversource’s holdings.

Boston, Massachusetts-based Eversource said the nine hydro plants are being acquired for $83 million by Bethesda, Maryland-based Hull Street Energy, LLC and its affiliates. Hull Street is a private equity firm focused on the power generation industry. The three fossil fuel plants, powered by combinations of oil, natural gas and biomass, along with the two combustion turbines—one powered by oil, the other by jet fuel—are being purchased for $175 million by a partnership of Granite Shore Power LLC, a 50-50 joint venture of Atlas Holdings of Greenwich, Connecticut, and Castleton Commodities International of Stamford, Connecticut.

Eversource as part of the restructuring agreement will forego recovery of $25 million related to an emissions reduction scrubber at its coal- and oil-fired Merrimack Station in Bow. Eversource also will provide $5 million to set up a Clean Energy Fund that will be managed by the NHPUC and the state’s Office of Energy and Planning. The new owners also must honor an employee benefits package established by Eversource and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Eversource also will provide three years of tax stabilization payments to those communities where the affected plants are sited, with payments to the extent a plant is sold for less than its assessed value.

The fossil plants being sold include:

  • Merrimack Station in Bow, 502 MW, coal and oil
  • Newington Station, Newington, 416 MW, oil and natural gas
  • Schiller Station, Portsmouth, 171.7 MW, coal, oil, biomass
  • Lost Nation, Groveton, 18 MW, oil
  • White Lake, Tamworth, 22.4 MW, jet fuel

The hydro plants being sold include:

  • Amoskeag Hydro, Manchester, 16 MW
  • Ayers Island, Bristol, 8.4 MW
  • Canaan Hydro, West Stewartstown, 1.1 MW
  • Eastman Falls, Franklin, 6.4 MW
  • Garvins Falls, Bow, 12.1 MW
  • Gorham Hydro, Gorham, 2.2 MW
  • Hooksett Hydro, Hooksett, 1.6 MW
  • Jackman Hydro, Hillsborough, 3.2 MW
  • Smith Hydro, Berlin, 17.2 MW

Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor. (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine)