94 A. 193 (N.H. 1915), Grafton County Electric Light And Power Co. v. State

Citation:94 A. 193, 77 N.H. 539
Opinion Judge:PEASLEE, J.
Party Name:GRAFTON COUNTY ELECTRIC LIGHT AND POWER CO. & a. v. STATE
Attorney:Thomas W. Streeter (of Massachusetts), Benjamin W. Couch, and Streeter, Demond, Woodworth & Sulloway (Frank S. Streeter orally), for the plaintiffs. Louis E. Wyman (by brief and orally), for the state.
Case Date:May 04, 1915
Court:Supreme Court of New Hampshire
 
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Page 193

94 A. 193 (N.H. 1915)

77 N.H. 539

GRAFTON COUNTY ELECTRIC LIGHT AND POWER CO. & a.

v.

STATE

Supreme Court of New Hampshire

May 4, 1915

Thomas W. Streeter (of Massachusetts), Benjamin W. Couch, and Streeter, Demond, Woodworth & Sulloway (Frank S. Streeter orally), for the plaintiffs.

Louis E. Wyman (by brief and orally), for the state.

OPINION

PEASLEE, J.

APPEAL, from an order of the public service commission dismising the petitions referred to ante, 490.

It appeared in evidence that the cost of the property of the Lebanon and Mascoma companies to the owners of the Grafton County Company was substantially its book value, which largely exceeded its capitalization. The commission were of opinion that the property was worth a larger amount, but that its capitalization at its value would be contrary to the public good. The Lebanon and Mascoma companies are physically connected, but serve different localities. The separation of accounts necessarily involved in keeping up the organization of both companies was deemed by the commission to be of importance upon the issue of public good. They were also of opinion that the results sought by the petitions would in effect violate the stock dividend statute (P. S., c. 273, s. 11) and that the petitions should be dismissed for that reason.

[77 N.H. 540] PEASLEE, J. The public service commission having found that the proposed transactions would be contrary to the public good, the appeal brings that question here for consideration. The measure by which the matter is to be determined is described by the legislature as "the public good." Laws 1911, c. 164, s. 13, as amended by Laws 1913, c. 145, s. 13. This is equivalent to a declaration that the proposed action must be one not forbidden by law, and that it must be a thing reasonably to be permitted under all the circumstances of the case. If it is reasonable that a person or a corporation have liberty to take a certain course with his or its property, it is also for the public good. It is the essence of free government that liberty be not restricted save for sound reason. Stated conversely: it is not for the public good that public utilities be unreasonably restrained of liberty of action, or unreasonably denied the rights as corporations which are given to corporations not engaged in the public service.

The public utilities statute includes individuals as well as corporations in the category...

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