Business Manager Tony Sapienza
IBEW 1837 Members at Eversource Generation in NH Ratify Extension Agreement
May 21, 2015 - IBEW members working in the electric generation assets of Eversource NH (formerly PSNH) have overwhelmingly ratified an agreement that extends their current contract while providing additional employee protections if the fossil or hydro facilities are sold or closed.
Eversource entered into settlement talks related to the divestiture of their generating assets as the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission was responding to a law passed last year that gave them the authority to force the Company to sell them if it was in the “economic interest” of ratepayers. PSNH had been under pressure to sell in large part because costs associated with a state-mandated "scrubber" to reduce mercury emissions at Merrimack Station had led to substantial upward pressure on residential electric rates.
The union ratification vote came as the New Hampshire House of Representatives is preparing to vote on Senate Bill 221 to securitize stranded debt if a divestiture settlement is reached and approved by the PUC. The Union has participated in the settlement talks and found widespread support among the legislature and the State Office of Energy Planning for employee protections for workers who may be affected by divestiture.
The Union represents nearly 175 members at the Merrimack Station, Newington Station and Schiller Station fossil fuel plants as well as at hydropower generating facilities throughout the state. They also represent generation maintenance workers. All of these dedicated workers may soon find themselves working for another employer. It’s also possible they could be out of work if divestiture is ordered and no buyers are found for one or more of the power generating stations.
The protections in the agreement include enhanced severance pay, guaranteed retirement benefits, access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage, tuition assistance, and greater bidding rights into other jobs at Eversource without impacting the rights of other union members in the Utility branch of the company. The agreement also guarantees that any new buyer will continue to honor the existing contract for no less than two years.
"We would like to thank IBEW members Tim Perozzi, Justin McNeff and James Hale for their active participation in those negotiations," said IBEW Assistant Business Manager Tom Ryan. "We'd also like to thank our members for voting and for their patience during this challenging process."
Although the deregulation of the Granite State's electric utilities was started in the late 1990's, it came to a halt when skyrocketing rates and rolling brownouts affected other states that had completed the process. The House is expect to vote on Senate Bill 221 on June 3 to securitize the debt in order for a settlement agreement to move forward. If passed by the House and signed by Governor Maggie Hassan, the PUC would still have to approve any deal that is reached.