Section 374-F:4

    374-F:4 Implementation. –
I. The commission is authorized to require the implementation of retail choice of electric suppliers for all customer classes of utilities providing retail electric service under its jurisdiction. The commission shall require such implementation at the earliest date determined to be in the public interest by the commission. However, in no event may the implementation be delayed beyond July 1, 1998 without legislative approval or a finding of public interest by the commission that delay is required due to events beyond the control of the commission or that implementation of retail choice within the service territory of any electric utility would be inconsistent with the goal of near-term rate relief or would otherwise not be in the public interest. In the event that implementation of retail choice is delayed in the service territory of an electric utility, the electric utility shall continue to provide reliable retail service at the lowest reasonable cost in accordance with state law. In addition, at the earliest practical date, the commission should make effective the unbundling of components of rates into at least distribution, transmission, and generation for each jurisdictional utility.
II. Upon the effective date of this chapter, the commission shall undertake a generic proceeding to develop a statewide industry restructuring plan in accordance with the above principles, and shall, after public hearings, issue a final order no later than February 28, 1997. In its order, the commission shall establish the interim stranded cost recovery charge for each electric utility as provided in paragraph VI.
III. [Repealed.]
IV. A utility having less than a 50 percent share of statewide retail electric distribution sales (measured in kilowatt hours per year) may seek a ruling by the commission that it is in the public interest that implementation of such utility's compliance filing be deferred until compliance filings representing 70 percent of retail electric sales have been or are being implemented.
V. The commission is authorized to allow utilities to collect a stranded cost recovery charge, subject to its determination in the context of a rate case or adjudicated settlement proceeding that such charge is equitable, appropriate, and balanced, is in the public interest, and is substantially consistent with these interdependent principles. The burden of proof for any stranded cost recovery claim shall be borne by the utility making such claim.
VI. (a) In order to facilitate the rapid transition to full competition, the commission is authorized, in its generic restructuring order as provided in paragraph II, to set, without a formal rate case proceeding, an interim stranded cost recovery charge for each electric utility. Such interim stranded cost recovery charges shall be effective for not more than 2 years from the implementation of utility compliance filings and shall be based on the commission's preliminary determination of an equitable, appropriate, and balanced measure of stranded cost recovery that takes into account the near term rate relief principle, is in the public interest, and is substantially consistent with these interdependent principles. The commission shall also consider the potential for future rate impacts due to possible differences between interim stranded cost recovery charges and charges that may finally be approved for stranded cost recovery.
(b) Any utility may seek adjustment of the interim stranded cost recovery charge at any time based on severe financial hardship, as determined by the commission. The setting of an interim stranded cost recovery charge shall establish no legal, factual, or policy precedent with respect to the final determination of stranded cost recovery by the commission in any subsequent administrative or judicial proceeding.
VII. The interim stranded cost recovery charge established for a utility as provided in paragraph VI may also be adjusted based upon the outcome of rate case proceedings to adjudicate claims for stranded cost recovery pursuant to paragraph V of this section. Any amounts approved by the commission for stranded cost recovery shall be net of amounts previously collected through interim stranded cost recovery charges.
VIII. (a) The commission is authorized to order such charges and other service provisions and to take such other actions that are necessary to implement restructuring and that are substantially consistent with the principles established in this chapter. The commission is authorized to require that distribution and electricity supply services be provided by separate affiliates.
(b) [Repealed.]
(c) The portion of the system benefits charge due to programs for low-income customers shall not exceed 1.5 mills per kilowatt hour. If the commission determines that the low-income program fund has accumulated an excess of $1,000,000 and that the excess is not likely to be substantially reduced over the next 12 months, it shall suspend collection of some or all of this portion of the system benefits charge for a period of time it deems reasonable.
(d) [Repealed.]
(e) Targeted conservation, energy efficiency, and load management programs and incentives that are part of a strategy to minimize distribution costs may be included in the distribution charge or the system benefits charge, provided that system benefits charge funds are only used for customer-based energy efficiency measures, and such funding shall not exceed 10 percent of the energy efficiency portion of a utility's annual system benefits charge funds. A proposal for such use of system benefits charge funds shall be presented to the commission for approval. Any such approval shall initially be on a pilot program basis and the results of each pilot program proposal shall be subject to evaluation by the commission.
(f) Beginning in 2000, the commission and the department shall submit a report to the legislative oversight committee to monitor the transformation of delivery of electric services by October 1 of each year. The report shall concern the results and effectiveness of the system benefits charge.
(g) [Repealed.]
VIII-a. Any electric utility that collects funds for energy efficiency programs that are subject to the commission's approval, shall include in its plans to be submitted to the commission program design, and/or enhancements, and estimated participation that maximize energy efficiency benefits to public schools, including measures that help enhance the energy efficiency of public school construction or renovation projects that are designed to improve indoor air quality. The report required under RSA 374-F:4, VIII(f) shall include the results and effectiveness of the energy efficiency programs for schools and, in addition to other requirements, be submitted to the commissioner of the department of education.
IX. An electricity supplier shall be eligible to compete, subject to necessary limitations established by the commission, for open access customers only if affiliated utilities file comparable open access transmission and distribution rates with the FERC or the commission, or both as appropriate, for all of their transmission facilities in New Hampshire and to the extent practicable, all of their distribution facilities in New Hampshire.
X. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prohibit the commission from otherwise exercising its lawful authority under title 34, in proceedings which relate to the introduction of competition in the retail electric utility industry including the retention of experts and consultants to assist the commission in its investigations and the assessment of such costs against utilities and any other parties to the proceedings, consistent with RSA 365:37 and RSA 365:38.
XI. Any administrative or adjudicative proceeding or public hearing relating to this chapter shall be subject to the provisions of RSA 541-A.
XII. To the extent that the provisions of this chapter are applicable to rural electric cooperatives for which a certificate of deregulation is on file with the commission, the commission shall exercise its authority with regard to such deregulated rural electric cooperatives only when and to the extent that the commission finds, after notice and hearing, that such action is required to ensure that such deregulated rural electric cooperatives do not act in a manner which is inconsistent with the restructuring policy principles of RSA 374-F:3. The commission shall have the authority to require that such deregulated rural electric cooperatives participate in proceedings, answer commission and department for information and file such reports as may be reasonably necessary to permit the commission to make an informed finding concerning the relevant restructuring policy principle actions of such deregulated rural electric cooperatives. Absent such a finding by the commission, the active role of assuring that the restructuring policy principles are appropriately addressed within their service territories shall be reserved to the deregulated rural electric cooperatives. Notwithstanding the foregoing, deregulated rural electric cooperatives shall be subject to the commission's jurisdiction with regard to those provisions of RSA 374-F pertaining to stranded cost recovery, customer choice, open access tariffs, default service, energy efficiency, and low income programs to the same extent as other public utilities.

Source. 1996, 129:2. 1997, 298:28. 1998, 191:6; 262:2. 1999, 289:6-9. 2000, 249:4. 2001, 29:12. 2002, 212:7. 2004, 164:1. 2005, 102:2; 228:3. 2007, 208:1, eff. Aug. 24, 2007. 2009, 236:3, 4, I-III, eff. July 16, 2009. 2018, 253:5, eff. Aug. 11, 2018. 2021, 91:251, II, 281, eff. July 1, 2021.