DR 96-035
           Special Contract No. NHPUC-127 between Praxair, Inc.
                and Public Service Company of New Hampshire
                     Order Amending Effective Date of 
                      Special Contract No. NHPUC-127
                         O R D E R   N O.  22,836
                             January 13, 1998
         APPEARANCES: Public Service Company of New Hampshire by
     Gerald M. Eaton, Esq.; Sulloway and Hollis by Margaret H. Nelson,
     Esq. for Praxair, Inc.; and, Eugene F. Sullivan, III, Esq. for
     the Staff of the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission.  
         On November 5, 1997, Praxair, Inc. (Praxair) filed a
     Motion for Rehearing requesting that the Commission change one
     aspect of Order No. 22,746, issued October 6, 1997, that is, the
     effective date of its special contract with Public Service
     Company of New Hampshire (PSNH).  Order No. 22,746 approved the
     revised special contract between Praxair and PSNH filed by PSNH
     on February 2, 1996 and conditionally approved by the Commission
     on October 21, 1996. See Order No. 22,375.  
         On November 17, 1997, the Commission granted Praxair's
     Motion for Rehearing on the sole aspect of the proper effective
     date for NHPUC-127.  By Commission letter dated November 19,
     1997, a hearing was scheduled for and heard on December 23, 1997.
         When special contract NHPUC-127 was initially approved
     on October 21, 1996, for effect November 20, 1996, the Commission
     required certain corrective actions to be taken before the
     contract could go into effect.  Once PSNH made the required
     amendments, it then had to obtain the signature of Praxair.  PSNH
     did not re-file NHPUC-127 with the necessary changes and
     signatures for Commission approval until June 13, 1997, which the
     Commission approved effective June 13, 1997.  The lapse in time
     was explained by PSNH as Praxair's "misunderstanding of the
     status of the contractual relations" and that the changes to the
     original contract were "merely an addendum" to a legally binding
     agreement.  Praxair's Motion for Rehearing seeks to change the
     effective date of NHPUC-127 back to November 20, 1996.
         In the Motion for Rehearing, Praxair states that it
     will suffer an injury as a result of the change in the effective
     date contained in Order No. 22,746, and that Praxair's customer,
     OSRAM Sylvania, will ultimately also suffer economic hardship
     based on the change in the effective date.  Praxair states that
     it honored its obligations under the contract by constructing two
     fully automated on-site production facilities to produce liquid
     and gaseous nitrogen used to supply those products to OSRAM
     Sylvania.  Praxair notes that absent the approval of NHPUC-127,
     Praxair would not have located facilities in New Hampshire to
     manufacture liquid and gaseous nitrogen.  
          While acknowledging responsibility in the delay of the
     re-filed special contract, Praxair believes that the consequences
     that result by changing the effective date are neither warranted
     nor justified based on the circumstances for the delay.  For
     support concerning those circumstances, Praxair filed the
     Affidavit of Christian D. Lenci, Energy Manager for Praxair.  
          Mr. Lenci states that he assumed responsibility mid-course for NHPUC-127 from his predecessor and that he was never
     led to believe after the Commission's conditional approval of
     NHPUC-127 that time was critical in the resubmittal of the
     contract.  He believed at the time that the changes amounted to
     nothing more than a "simple addendum to a pre-existing, legally
     binding contract, and as such, did not expedite its review."
          We have reviewed the record in this proceeding,
     including the Praxair Motion for Rehearing, the Affidavit by Mr.
     Lenci, and the original filing.  Based upon our review, we
     believe it would be in the public interest to grant Praxair's
     request to return the effective date of NHPUC-127 from June 13,
     1997 to its original effective date of November 20, 1996. 
     Praxair has demonstrated that it has acted in good faith to
     effectuate its commitments to its customer, OSRAM Sylvania, and
     that it has done nothing intentional that would warrant a
     substantial economic penalty for an administrative oversight.  
          Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby
          ORDERED, that the effective date of Special Contract
     No. NHPUC-127 between Praxair Inc. and Public Service Company of
     New Hampshire shall be November 20, 1996; and it is
          FURTHER ORDERED, that Public Service Company of New
     Hampshire shall refund Praxair the difference between the
     standard tariff rates and the special contract rates based on the
     effective date of November 20, 1996.
          By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this thirteenth day of January, 1998.
        Douglas L. Patch    Bruce B. Ellsworth        Susan S. Geiger
            Chairman           Commissioner            Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary