Public Service Company of New Hampshire, 122320 NHPUC, 26, 439

Docket Nº:Order 26, 439
Opinion Judge:Dianne Martin Chairwoman
Judge Panel:Kathryn M. Bailey Commissioner
Case Date:December 23, 2020

PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE D/B/A EVERSOURCE ENERGY

Order No. 26, 439

DE 19-057

New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission

December 23, 2020

Notice of Intent to File Rate Schedules

Order Following Hearing on 2019 Step Adjustment

Matthew J. Fossum, Esq., on behalf of Public Service Company of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource Energy; Preti-Flaherty, by John B. Coffman, Esq., on behalf of AARP New Hampshire; and Brian D. Buckley, Esq., on behalf of Commission Staff.

Dianne Martin Chairwoman

In this order, the Commission authorizes Eversource to recover the annual revenue requirement of $10.611 million associated with $124.9 million of plant additions placed in service in calendar year 2019. Recovery will be made through distribution rates on a service-rendered basis beginning January 1, 2021. For a residential customer using 600 kWh per month, the result is a monthly bill increase of $1.97, or 1.74 percent.1 Eversource recovers distribution rates from all delivery service customers.

I.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Public Service Company of New Hampshire d/b/a Eversource Energy (Eversource or the Company) filed a Notice of Intent to File Rate Schedules on March 22, 2019, and on April 26, 2019, filed notice of its intent to file schedules for permanent rates.

On May 8, 2019, the Commission issued Order No. 26, 250, which suspended Eversource's proposed temporary rate tariff pending further investigation and scheduled a Prehearing Conference, technical session, and a temporary rate hearing. Several parties intervened in the proceeding. Over the ensuing year and a half, Eversource and numerous parties engaged in discovery, technical sessions, and other discussions culminating in the Settlement Agreement approved by the Commission in Order No. 26, 443 (December 16, 2020). The Settlement Agreement established permanent rates based on a 2018 test year. Among its provisions, the Settlement Agreement contains a provision for three annual step increases to account for plant placed in service in calendar years 2019, 2020, and 2021, effective on August 1 of each year, with the exception of the 2019 step. Because the pandemic resulted in a six-month extension of this proceeding, the Settlement Agreement provides that Eversource shall recover the annual revenue associated with the 2019 step increase over the seven-month period beginning January 1, 2021, to align with Eversource's original proposal to have step increases effective on August 1 of each year. In Order No. 26, 443, the Commission ordered Eversource to remove rate case expenses from the calculation of rates. See Order No. 26, 443 at 20-21.

On October 9, 2020, Eversource filed a petition requesting recovery of $10.651 million in revenue requirement associated with $125.2 million of plant additions placed in service in calendar year 2019, the first step increase established by the Settlement Agreement. Eversource filed supporting pre-filed testimony and related attachments associated with this capital investment. The Commission issued a supplemental order of notice on November 12, 2020, scheduling a merits hearing on December 1, 2020, which was held as scheduled.

The initial filing, testimony, exhibits and other docket filings, other than any information for which confidential treatment has been requested of or granted by the Commission, are posted at https://www.puc.nh.gov/Regulatory/Docketbk/2019/19-057.html.

II.

POSITIONS OF THE PARTIES AND STAFF

A. Eversource

Eversource testified in support of the step increase, explaining the development of projects completed in 2019, from the initiation of a project to placement of plant into service. Eversource referenced Attachment LGL/DLP-1 to Ex. 59 in support of the request, and explained that the attachment is the Company's first attempt to address concerns expressed by Staff regarding the Company's project management and planning practices. Eversource said it expects this process will be modified based on the outcome of the business process audit agreed to in the Settlement Agreement. Hearing Transcript of December 1, 2020, (Tr. 12/1/20) at 13-15. Eversource also testified that the Company intended to work with Staff to develop templates to present all project documentation in a consistent manner. Tr. 12/1/20 at 16. The Company said it expects that the business process audit and the templates will make it easier for the Commission to review Company investments. Tr. 12/1/20 at 17.

Eversource discussed several projects and project accounts at hearing. First, the Company witnesses testified regarding the West Rye Substation Project. Eversource represented the Company initiated the project in 2016 and explained how the Project evolved, based on revisions that resulted from engineering changes to the scope of the project. Eversource stated that, because it estimated that the costs of the project would increase, the Company supplemented its initial funding request. In late 2017, Eversource issued a request for proposals for certain project services, and selected a vendor. Based on that selection, the cost of the project increased again, and Eversource filed a second supplemental funding request. Eversource filed another two supplemental funding requests, the last of which Eversource processed in 2019. As a result, the 2019 Step includes the amount of that fourth supplemental funding request, despite the fact that...

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