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Looking over his monthly electric bill, Chris Ganotis’ eyes ju

May 11, 1997

NORTH HAMPTON, N.H. (AP) _ Looking over his monthly electric bill, Chris Ganotis’ eyes jumped to two lines that accounted for nearly two-thirds of the $102.52 in charges.

Marked ``stranded costs″ and ``acquisition premium,″ the $65 had nothing to do with the electricity he bought last February from Granite State Energy, his new power company.

It had everything to do with the $2.3 billion Seabrook nuclear plant, once owned by his former supplier, the Public Service Co. of New Hampshire. Although the plant is no longer directly owned by Public Service, its customers and former customers are still paying the cost of building it.

As many states rush to open electricity markets, state regulators and utilities are fighting over who should pay for billions of dollars of investment in plants that will not be economical in a competitive industry.

Utilities say customers should help pay these ``stranded costs,″ which were approved by state regulatory agencies when the plants were built. But critics say they are bad debts from expensive mistakes, for which the companies and their shareholders should be responsible.

With the costs on his bill, Ganotis said, ``there’s not going to be a whole lot of savings″ from electricity competition.

New Hampshire officials recently said the utility can’t automatically pass on the costs once statewide competition among utilities begins next year. The power company sued, saying it would go bankrupt if it cannot pass along the cost to customers.

A ruling is pending.

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