Eversource threatens EDF with cease and desist over report on gas capacity constraints
- Eversource, who is accused of unfair gas scheduling practices, has fired back at the conservation group behind what it calls "false and defamatory statements regarding [its] gas purchasing practices."
- The utility yesterday called on Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to remove the group's report from its website, threatening to file a lawsuit if the conservation group does not comply. The analysis was the reason for a lawsuit brought against Eversource and Avangrid by 12 New England power consumers.
- Officials at EDF dismissed the threat, calling it an "obvious attempt to intimidate and chill legitimate public inquiry.” The report spurred regulatory inquiries in Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as a call for FERC to investigate from Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).
Eversource Energy warned yesterday that it has retained outside counsel regarding EDF's claims.
“Your false and misleading statements are immediately actionable and expose you and those acting in concert with you to liability for substantial damages,” Eversource's cease and desist letter states. “If you do not cease and desist from all further publication of such statements, Eversource will take all appropriate action; indeed, we have retained outside counsel to protect our rights.”
The letter demands that EDF refrain from any further "defamation" of Eversource, that EDF remove all versions of its document from its website, and ask other parties to whom they supplied the analysis to do the same.
"We are outraged by the reckless claims that EDF continues to perpetuate and are shocked at how aggressively they continue to look for opportunities to spread these incredibly false narratives,” Eversource President of Gas Operations Bill Akley said in a statement. “We stand confidently by our supply planning and management strategies and our employees who make those decisions in the best interest of our gas customers.”
According to EDF, Eversource and Avangrid raised power prices 20% at times over the past three years by scheduling more capacity than they needed on the Algonquin pipeline – and then canceling some of the orders later in the day, too late for the pipeline space to be resold.
Known as down-scheduling, the practice locks up pipeline capacity that may be needed by gas-fired power plants. On the worst days, including during the Polar Vortex of 2013-2014, up to 7% of Algonquin’s capacity could be artificially constrained, according to EDF's report.
Eversource and Avangrid have said that the practice was not to manipulate power prices, but rather ensure they had adequate gas capacity to serve customers.
But the news led the Massachusetts utility regulators to announce they would review the EDF report, following the lead of state Attorney General Maura Healey (D). Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has asked FERC to open an investigation into the behavior of the utilities. The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has opened an investigation as well. New Hampshire Consumer Advocate D. Maurice Kreis also called for further investigation in an op-ed
Jon Coifman, a spokesman for Environmental Defense Fund, said they stand by their analysis.
“We have just received the Eversource letter of December 11 and referred it to counsel for review," he said. "We stand by the analysis and reject this obvious attempt to intimidate and chill legitimate public inquiry.”
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