My Turn: The problem with utility projects? Fixed costs

Governor-elect Chris Sununu, Eversource N.H. President Bill Quinlan and Business and Industry Association President Jim Roche all propose lowering electricity prices with more transmission and natural gas pipeline projects. Yet capital expenditures on more utility infrastructure will add to the already sky-high fixed costs of our electricity rates. So any discussion of energy needs requires a sober, first-things-first approach to their costs. In 2015, the Southern Environmental Law Center published, “A Troubling Trend in Rate Design: Proposed Rate Design Alternatives to Harmful Fixed Charges.” The authors put the problem of high fixed charges squarely on the utilities, telling us they have failed to employ “a range of smart rate design opportunities that better respond to the changing nature of the grid.” This means increasing energy efficiency and expanding distributed energy resources, not infrastructure. Fixed charges in electricity rates carry serious short- and long-term downsides.


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