Concord - The New Hampshire Republican State Committee sent the following Right to Know request to Governor Maggie Hassan today regarding her potential knowledge about the electric utility crisis facing New Hampshire this winter.
The Honorable Maggie Hassan
Governor of New Hampshire
107 North Main Street
Concord, New Hampshire 03301
Dear Governor Hassan,
This is a request under the New Hampshire Right To Know Law (RSA 91-A.)
I formally request that you provide me with all records containing any and all communication between your office, Office of Energy and Planning and the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regarding the approved winter rate hikes requested by Liberty Utilities, Unitil Corporation and the New Hampshire Electric Co-Op. This includes any written or electronic communications from you and your staff and New Hampshire Public Utilities Commissioners Ignatius, Scott and Honigberg, their staff and their legal counsel.
In the past, you have asserted that New Hampshire's Right to Know Law does not apply to you as governor. Our attorneys can find no such exemption in the law. Should you decline to provide any requested communications, please provide the specific provision under RSA 91-A that exempts such public records from the Right to Know Law.
According to the New Hampshire Union Leader, the New Hampshire PUC "approved a 99 percent winter rate hike requested by Liberty Utilities." Further, the New Hampshire Electric Co-op has stated that "its power rates will rise 29 percent, and Unitil [Corporation] says it will go up 84 percent."
News media outlets across New England have reported on the serious hardship to be faced by New Hampshire residents in the coming winter season. Already, the PUC has received numerous complaints and requests for assistance, according to PUC Consumer Affairs Division Director Amanda Noonan. In a recentarticle by the Concord Monitor, Noonan said, "People are concerned about how they are going to manage this and whether they have any options. It's a huge increase for them." In addition, the PUC expects that "higher electric rates will take a toll on the state's low income residents," according to Shannon Nolin, who oversees the Community Action Agency's Electric Assistance Program.
New Hampshire communities and businesses are bracing themselves for the coming energy crisis. For example, the Concord YMCA anticipates that it will have to pay 50 percent more for electricity this winter, forcing this non-profit organization to seek new revenue streams in order to maintain programs vital to the community,according to the Concord Monitor.
Further, there are growing fears that New Hampshire and all of New England could face rolling blackouts this winter,according to ISO New England. It goes without saying that this is an unthinkable disaster, and many lives will be in very serious danger should the predicted blackouts occur.
It's abundantly clear that New Hampshire is on the brink of an across the board energy crisis this winter. Working class families, already struggling to make ends meet as a result of the gas tax hike you signed into law earlier this year, will be forced to make a choice between safely heating their homes and putting food on their table. This is a very perilous choice for New Hampshire families to make, considering that the Farmer's Almanacpredicts this winter to be "another article blast with above-normal snowfall."
To date, you have yet to make public statements regarding the forthcoming utility cost crisis this winter. At the annual New Hampshire energy summit, you were given the opportunity to prepare Granite State residents for the upcoming energy crisis, and you chose to ignore the problem, saying that "it's helpful to think of energy efficiency as a source of energy itself." These comments do nothing to address the crisis faced by New Hampshire families and businesses, and serve as an incredible insult to Granite Staters who will be in danger during the upcoming winter season.
As such, I respectfully submit that you release all communications regarding the electricity rate hikes approved by the PUC, and any rate hikes that are pending before the PUC and have yet to become public domain. Granite State residents have the right to know whether you were aware of the forthcoming energy crisis, did nothing about it and deflected questions regarding it, or if you were simply asleep at the wheel on this issue. Either way, New Hampshire residents deserve better than a governor who will leave them out in the cold.
Chairman, New Hampshire Republican State Committee