DF 98-016
              Petition for Approval of Extension, Modification and/or
              Amendment of Various Finance Arrangements, for Issuance
                  of First Mortgage Bonds and for the Granting of
                                Additional Security
                   Order Granting Public Service Company
                of New Hampshire's Motion for Confidential 
                     Treatment of Certain Information
                         O R D E R   N O.  22,923
                               May 11, 1998
         On February 20, 1998, Public Service Company of
     New Hampshire (PSNH) filed with the New Hampshire Public
     Utilities Commission (Commission) a petition for approval
     under RSA 369, inter alia, for extension, modification
     and/or amendment of various finance arrangements for
     issuance of first mortgage bonds and for the granting of
     additional security.
         On March 9, 1998, PSNH filed with the Commission a
     Motion for Protective Order (Motion) with respect to certain
     confidential financial information requested by the Staff in
     this matter.  The information requested to be treated as
     confidential is a certain "Information Memorandum" which is
     provided to participating banks in connection with PSNH's
     proposed financing.  The Information Memorandum contains
     confidential projections of PSNH earnings over the next year
     which assume electric restructuring and which were prepared
     for use in confidential settlement negotiations.  PSNH
     provided the information to Staff and the Office of Consumer
     Advocate (OCA).    
         In its Motion, PSNH states that the information is
     confidential and competitive information which falls within
     the exemption from public disclosure of RSA 91-A:5,IV and
     N.H. Admin. Rules, Puc 204.06.  PSNH further states that
     release of the information could be harmful to PSNH's
     business position and could affect financial markets, and
     that its release would be inappropriate.     PSNH also
     states in its Motion that the identified information is not
     general public knowledge and has been distributed on a
     limited need-to-know basis only.  Further, it contends that
     the Securities and Exchange Commission does not allow
     projected earnings of companies with publicly traded stock
     to be disclosed, PSNH requested confidential treatment. 
         The Commission recognizes that the information
     identified above is the type of information which was
     anticipated would be protected when N.H. Admin. Rules, Puc
     204.06 was adopted.  The Commission also recognizes that the
     information contained in the filing is sensitive commercial
     information in a competitive market.  Thus, based on PSNH's
     representations, under the balancing test we have applied in
     prior cases, e.g., Re New England Telephone & Telegraph
     Company (Auditel), 80 NH PUC 437 (1995); Re Bell Atlantic,
     Order No. 22,851 (February 17, 1998); Re EnergyNorth Natural
     Gas, Inc., Order No. 22,859 (February 24, 1998), we find
     that the benefits to PSNH of non-disclosure in this case
     outweigh the benefits to the public of disclosure.  The
     information, therefore, is exempt from public disclosure
     pursuant to RSA 91-A:5,IV and N.H. Admin. Rules, Puc 204.06.
         Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby
         ORDERED, that PSNH's Motion for Protective Order,
     filed on March 9, 1998, is GRANTED;
         FURTHER ORDERED, that this Order is subject to the
     ongoing rights of the Commission, on its own motion or on
     the motion of Staff, any party or any other member of the
     public, to reconsider this Order in light of RSA 91-A,
     should circumstances so warrant.
         By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this eleventh day of May, 1998.
        Douglas L. Patch    Bruce B. Ellsworth          Susan S.
            Chairman           Commissioner                  Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary