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In re In re Public Serv. Co. of N.H.

Citation: 14 ELR 20848
No. No. 84-140, 480 A.2d 20/125 N.H. 46, (N.H., 06/12/1984)

The court holds that a state statute forbidding recovery of costs associated with construction of an electric power plant before the plant begins production bars recovery of investment in the abandoned Pilgrim 2 nuclear plant. The court rejects the utility's contentions that the phrase "construction work in progress" in the statute is used in a technical accounting sense and is a temporal limitation only; such an interpretation would conflict with both the context of the statute and the common meaning of the words. Further, the provision forbidding recovery of costs associated with construction work that "is not completed" means what it says and not "construction work that has not been stopped." Applying its interpretation, the court holds that the statute clearly forbids both the amortization of the investment as an expense and inclusion of any portion of the investment in the rate base. The court leaves open, however, the question whether the company's rate of return mat be increased to allow a sufficient return — after absorption of the loss — to attract new investors, which would allow an indirect recovery of the lost investment.

Counsel for Appellant
Martin L. Gross, Margaret H. Nelson
Sulloway, Hollis & Soden
P.O. Box 1256, Concord NH 03301
(603) 224-2341

Counsel for Appellees
Gerald M. Eaton
Community Action Program
Two Industrial Dr., Concord NH 03301
(603) 225-3295

Douglas I. Foy, Armond M. Cohen
Conservation Law Foundation of New England, Inc.
Three Joy St., Boston MA 02108
(617) 742-2540

Roert A. Backus
Backus, Shea & Meyer
P.O. Box 516, Manchester NH 03105
(603) 668-7272

Counsel for Amici Curiae
Larry S. Eckhaus
FRD 5, Brandy Rock Rd., Derry NH 03038
(603) 432-3553

Sharon A. Spickler
Shaines, Madrigan & McEachern
P.O. Box 360, Portsmouth NH 03801
(603) 436-3110

All concurred.