New Hampshire Transmission (NHT) will refund New England ratepayers $6.8 million with $3.2 million going to Bay State electric ratepayers, to settle allegations that the company improperly included millions of dollars of development costs in its transmission rates, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) has announced.
NHT is a Delaware Limited Liability Company (LLC) registered to conduct business in New Hampshire. It was founded in 2010, when Florida Power & Light (FPL) filed with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to transfer 88.23 percent of its ownership interest in the Seabrook (New Hampshire) transmission substation to the new company (Docket No. DE 190042). The Seabrook transmission substation is located adjacent to the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant– and it interconnects the station with the New England Grid. NHT is a wholly-owned subsidiary of U.S. Transmission Holdings, an FPL Group affiliate created for the purposes of owning FPL transmission investments that are sited outside of Florida.
This settlement resolves a complaint that the Attorney General’s Office filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in April 2015 (Docket No. EL15-85-000). The AG’s office argued that New England consumers should not foot the bill for the $9.9 million that NHT had spent to develop its proposed SeaLink transmission project, a project which was not selected to be built by ISO-New England (ISO-NE) Instead, ISO-NE chose to follow through with the alternate current transmission line upgrades proposed by Eversource and National Grid.
“As the state’s ratepayer advocate, it is my job to ensure that the millions of dollars improperly charged to ratepayers gets returned to them,” said AG Healey. “We need to keep working with consumer advocates and our state, local and federal partners so that costs for electricity transmission are fair, reasonable and transparent.”
Joining the AG’s Office in this case against NHT are the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, and the Vermont Department of Public Service.
Through its investigation, the AG’s Office discovered that from 2012-2015, NHT collected $9.9 million in expenses from ratepayers for the proposed transmission project. As a result of the AG’s complaint, FERC opened an investigation into the claim and the AG’s Office and other consumer advocates litigated the matter before FERC.
As a result of the settlement, NHT will refund $6.5 million of the costs it billed to ratepayers in 2012, 2013 and 2014; and has agreed to forgo billing customers for costs incurred for the project in 2015, which is equal to $305,000.
Massachusetts ratepayers will receive approximately $3.2 million – or 47 percent of the refund – and the other New England states will receive the remaining balance. Pending approval by FERC, NHT will be required to refund the money on July 31.
As part of her office’s ongoing efforts to advocate for ratepayers, AG Healey also is leading negotiations with transmission owners and other stakeholders that will result in new reporting and communications requirements for transmission owners, with the goal of achieving a more transparent process for setting electric transmission rates.