Complaint against Jaffrey Community Power dismissed

Town of Jaffrey

Town of Jaffrey FILE PHOTO


Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Published: 03-04-2024 12:21 PM

Following a review, the Department of Energy has determined a complaint of the Office of the Consumer Advocate against Jaffrey’s community power plan is unfounded, and the department will not bring the matter to a proceeding before the Public Utilities Commission.

On Feb. 13, the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) filed the same complaint against Jaffrey’s community power plan with both the Department of Energy and the Public Utilities Commission. The basis of the complaint was that Jaffrey’s community power plan states that the town will accept no bid at a price higher than the utility default rate at the time of the program launch. Jaffrey’s default community power rate is set at 10.96 cents per kilowatt-hour, which, at the time Jaffrey accepted the bid in October, was below the Eversource default of 12.58 cents.

Jaffrey secured its rate for a period of 20 months, from March 1, 2024 through November 2025. Eversource adjusts its rate every six months, and on Feb. 1 set its new six-month default rate of 8.28 cents per KWh, putting it below Jaffrey Community Power’s rate until at least July 31. As Jaffrey Community Power’s rates went into effect on March 1, the Officer of Consumer Advocate alleged in its complaint that Jaffrey was not meeting the standard it had set of being below Eversource’s default rate at “launch.”

In its decision, issued Feb. 29, the Department of Energy stated that in a review of all filings and relevant rules and laws, that there is no definite definition for when a community power plan is “launched.” The department stated that in context, the Jaffrey Community Power Plan states that “no bid will be accepted at a price higher than the utility default rate at the time of program launch,” and ruled that the Officer of Consumer Advocate’s belief that “launch” means the commencement of service is “unjustified when read within the context.”

“The use of the word ‘bid’ here refers to the bids the town received at the competitive bidding process for electricity rates, which occurred on or about October 4, 2023 when the [Electric Service Agreement] was executed. A competitive bidding process is a limited period of time, and the town only had a short duration to accept or reject a bid,” wrote Molly M. Lynch, the staff attorney and hearings examiner for the Department of Energy.

Lynch wrote that the town “could not predict” what Eversource’s default service rate would be when reset of Feb. 1, and therefore, interpreting “launch” to mean the enrollment of customers was “inconsistent.”

The Jaffrey Community Power Plan also includes, under the heading of “program launch,” items such as customer notification and marketing, which clearly pre-date the enrollment in the community power rate.

“The DOE accepts the town’s view that launch of its community aggregation program is a process beginning with the [Electric Service Agreement], and finds that the town is not in violation of its [Community Aggregation Plan],” Lynch wrote.

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The Department of Energy ruled that the complaint was “unsupported” and that the town’s commencement of the service on March 1 did not violate any Public Utilities Commission order, or any provisions of the PUC or state statutes, and declined to initiate a proceeding regarding the complaint. The Office of Consumer Advocate still maintains the right to petition the Public Utilities Commission to resolve the matter through an adjudicative proceeding.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172, Ext. 244, or She’s on X @AshleySaariMLT.