Sale will complete electric deregulation in New Hampshire
MANCHESTER, N.H. (October 12, 2017) – As a result of the proposed sale of the company’s power plants, Eversource New Hampshire customers will realize the benefits of a comprehensive restructuring and rate stabilization agreement entered into in 2015. In a filing today with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC), Eversource outlined the details of the agreements to sell the plants to two buyers. Following NHPUC and other necessary approvals, closings on the transactions are expected by late December or early 2018. This change in power plant ownership will mark the completion of electric deregulation in New Hampshire and a shift in how the company procures energy for customers in the future.
“Our generation plants have proven valuable to New Hampshire customers for many years, especially during times of extreme cold or heat when additional sources of power have been needed to help meet demand. Now, we will join other utilities across New England in obtaining energy for our customers from the competitive regional wholesale energy market,” noted Eversource NH President Bill Quinlan. “Importantly, the announced transactions honor commitments made to employees and municipalities where facilities are located to ensure a smooth transition.”
The NHPUC in 2016 established the power plant auction process, which is being managed by J.P. Morgan. Under the proposed sales, which must be reviewed and approved by the NHPUC, Eversource‘s three large fossil generation facilities and two remote combustion turbines will be purchased by Granite Shore Power LLC, a newly-formed 50-50 partnership between Atlas Holdings of Greenwich, CT and Castleton Commodities International (CCI) of Stamford, CT for a price of $175 million. The company’s nine hydroelectric facilities will be acquired by Hull Street Energy, LLC and affiliates (“Hull Street Energy”), an electric industry-focused private equity firm based in Bethesda, MD, for $83 million.
As part of the proposed purchase agreements, the new owners must keep the plants in service for at least 18 months, and must honor a comprehensive employee benefits package established by Eversource and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Moreover, Eversource will provide three years of tax stabilization payments to communities to the extent a power plant is sold for less than its assessed value.
Consistent with the 2015 settlement agreement, customers will also benefit from Eversource‘s agreement to forego recovery of $25 million related to the Merrimack Station emission reduction ‘scrubber,’ and from the financing of stranded costs remaining after the sales through the use of securitization bonds. These bonds take advantage of low interest rates. In addition, Eversource has agreed to provide $5 million from its shareholders to establish a Clean Energy Fund. Details regarding the Clean Energy Fund will be established via a collaborative process overseen by NHPUC Staff and the Office of Energy and Planning.
The decision to sell Eversource‘s plants implements New Hampshire state public policy objectives and was part of a comprehensive 2015 agreement among Eversource and other parties, including State Senators Jeb Bradley and Dan Feltes; the NH Office of Energy and Planning; the NH Office of Consumer Advocate; and designated staff members of the NHPUC. Other signatories to the agreement included: IBEW, Local 1837; the Conservation Law Foundation; TransCanada Hydro Northeast Inc. and TransCanada Power Marketing, Ltd.; and the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association.
Fossil Assets – 1,130.1 MW total nameplate capacity:
* Merrimack Station, Bow; Coal/oil; 502.0 total megawatts (MW)
* Newington Station, Newington; Oil and/or natural gas; 416.0 MW
* Schiller Station, Portsmouth; Coal/oil/biomass; 171.7 total MW
* Lost Nation, Groveton; Oil; 18.0 MW
* White Lake, Tamworth; Jet fuel; 22.4 MW
Hydro Assets – 68.2 MW total nameplate capacity:
* Amoskeag Hydro, Manchester; 16.0 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
Eversource (NYSE: ES) is New Hampshire’s largest electric utility, serving more than 500,000 homes and businesses in 211 cities and towns and is proud to be recognized as the top contributor to United Way in New Hampshire. Recognized as the top U.S. utility for its energy efficiency programs by the sustainability advocacy organization Ceres, Eversourceharnesses the commitment of its approximately 8,000 employees across three states to build a single, united company around the mission of safely delivering reliable energy and superior customer service. For more information, please visit our website (www.eversource.com) and follow us on Twitter (@eversourceNH) and Facebook (facebook.com/EversourceNH).
Why are Eversource’s power generation facilities being sold?
New Hampshire’s Electric Restructuring Law contemplated the sale of all utility-owned generation in order to pursue a competitive electric energy marketplace. The Legislature halted that process prior to Eversource selling its generation; however, in 2014, the Legislature renewed its desire for the sale of Eversource’s generating stations. In 2015, the Legislature enacted additional implementing legislation. Thus, the sale of Eversource’s generating plants implements a state public policy decision.
An agreement between Eversource, key state leaders, and other interested parties approved last year by the NH Public Utilities Commission, called for Eversource to sell its (PSNH) power-generating facilities in New Hampshire. Eversource is the only electric utility in New England to still own coal, wood, oil and gas generation plants. Similar utility-owned plants throughout New England, including nuclear plants, were sold approximately 15 years ago.
We anticipate significant savings for our customers because our rates going forward will not include ongoing costs of owning and operating these power generation plants. More information on the agreement can be found at the NH Public Utilities Commission website: www.puc.state.nh.gov (“Eversource Energy Auction of Electric Generation Facilities”)
Who was the winning bidder?
There were two winning bidders selected – one for the Company’s fossil fuel plants (Schiller, Newington and Merrimack, and combustion turbines at Lost Nation in Groveton and White Lake in Tamworth) and one for the hydro stations:
All fossil fuel facilities plus two remote combustion turbine peaking units to Granite Shore Power LLC, a newly-formed 50/50 partnership between Atlas Holdings of Greenwich, CT, and Castleton Commodities International (CCI) of Stamford, CT.
o Atlas and its affiliates own eighteen companies. These companies collectively employ approximately 21,000 associates and operate from more than 220 facilities across the globe. Atlas owns co-generation units at several of its industrial operations, as well as Greenidge Generation, a 106 MW power generation facility that Atlas converted from coal to natural gas and biomass in 2016.
o CCI is a global commodity merchant whose activities include the ownership and operations of 20 power generation assets comprising approximately 2,000 MWs across the U.S. and Europe.
All nine hydroelectric facilities to Hull Street Energy, LLC and affiliates (“Hull Street Energy”) of Bethesda, MD, which invests in middle market power companies that are strategically positioned for growth. The Hull Street Energy team has an extensive track record of owning and operating hydroelectric facilities in North America. The firm recently announced the acquisition of five western Massachusetts hydroelectric generation facilities (Nautilus Hydro) formerly owned by Northeast Utilities.
How were the winning bidders determined?
The NH Public Utilities Commission (NHPUC) chose financial services company J.P. Morgan to conduct the auction process, which took place throughout much of 2017. All interested bidders were required to go through a pre-qualification process specified by J. P. Morgan, which conducted a rigorous auction process in accordance with the NHPUC’s requirements. All bidders conducted detailed due diligence reviews. All final bids were evaluated by J. P. Morgan and Eversource, with oversight by Staff from the NH Public Utilities Commission, with the goal of maximizing the total value of the transaction for customers.
If the plants are being sold to someone else, who will supply my energy?
For over 15 years, electricity customers in New Hampshire have had the ability to choose a competitive power supplier or remain on a utility’s energy service. The sale of Eversource’s generation facilities will not change this. After the sale of the generation facilities is finalized, Eversource will purchase all the power we need for our customers from the competitive marketplace. This is the same practice followed by every other New Hampshire electric utility in supplying energy to their customers. It is expected that the change to a market-based energy service product by Eversource will significantly reduce that rate going forward.
What will the sale of Eversource’s generation facilities mean for rates?
We anticipate significant savings overall for our customers once the sales have been approved by the NH Public Utilities Commission because our rates going forward will not include ongoing costs of owning and operating these power generation plants. Eversource’s rates will continue to be regulated by the NH Public Utilities Commission. Eversource will continue to provide energy service for Eversource’s electric customers, but as always, customers can continue to choose an energy supplier other than Eversource.
What will the sale mean for Eversource customers who don’t purchase my energy from Eversource?
The agreement with state government leaders was negotiated and structured to maximize savings for all customers. That means the recovery of stranded costs will be spread out among all customers who receive a bill from Eversource, whether they choose us as their energy supplier or only receive delivery service from us. As part of the implementation of the state’s public policy leading to the sale of our generating stations, the Legislature has approved the use of low cost financing to recover any remaining generation-related costs. The payments for these bonds will be spread out across all Eversource customers over a 12-year period.
Are the new owners required to keep the plants running for a certain amount of time?
Yes. The buyers must keep each station operating for least 18 months after the date of sale.
What will this mean to the communities in which these facilities are located?
Eversource has been communicating with local officials throughout the entire divestiture process, and our Community Relations specialists and legal team will be meeting with key leaders to walk through the details of the sale and transfer of ownership of generation properties.
Will current Generation employees be able to keep their jobs?
We are hopeful that most will, but that decision will be up to the new owners. In accordance with New Hampshire law (RSA 369-B:3-b), a comprehensive employee benefits package has been established by Eversource and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), which includes protections for all Eversource employees who are affected by the sale of our generating plants. Any affected employee who does not retain employment as a result of the sale and was not offered a position by the new owner will be entitled to severance benefits.