DF 98-196
                 Montaup Electric Company, Inc.
Petition to Transfer Interest in the Seabrook Nuclear Generating
   Order Granting Confidential Treatment and Protective Order
                    O R D E R   N O. 23,113
                        January 25, 1999
       On November 5, 1998, Montaup Electric Company, Inc.
     (Montaup) filed with the New Hampshire Public Utilities
     Commission (Commission) a Petition for Approval of the Transfer
     of its Interest in Seabrook Station under RSA 374:30.  See, RSA
     374-A.  Montaup is a Massachusetts corporation wholly owned by
     Eastern Edison Company, which in turn is wholly owned by Eastern
     Utilities Associates (EUA), a Massachusetts business trust and a
     registered public utility holding company under the Public
     Utility Holding Company Act of 1935.  Montaup is EUA's power
     supply subsidiary, and it generates or purchases virtually all of
     the electric power needed to serve the customers of EUA's retail
     distribution subsidiaries in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 
       Montaup owns an undivided 2.89989% interest in Seabrook
     and a corresponding entitlement to 2.89989% of the power produced
     at the facility.  Other than its ownership interest in Seabrook,
     Montaup owns no other utility property in New Hampshire, nor does
     it conduct any operations in this state as an electric utility or
     otherwise.  Under a June 24, 1998 Asset Purchase Agreement,
     Montaup agreed to sell its Seabrook interest to Great Bay Power
     Corporation (Great Bay).  Great Bay assigned its rights under the
     Asset Purchase Agreement to its affiliate Little Bay Power
     Corporation (Little Bay) on August 28, 1998.
       On December 28, 1998, following the duly noticed
     prehearing conference the parties and Staff engaged in a
     technical session.  At the technical session, Staff requested
     certain information regarding Little Bay's financial forecasts. 
     This information had been requested because if Little Bay was
     unable to meet its financial obligations in the future, it could
     implicate the potential exposure of other New Hampshire companies
     and their ratepayers for Seabrook decommissioning and operating
     expenses.  The information requested by Staff is contained in
     confidential costs and projections prepared by Little Bay as part
     of its application for approval of the proposed transfer
     currently pending before the United States Nuclear Regulatory
     Commission (NRC).  The NRC protected this information from
     disclosure on October 26, 1998.  See, NRC Letter of October 26,
     1999, Attachment to Motion.
       On January 6, 1999, Little Bay filed a Motion for
     Protective Order and Confidential Treatment.  In the Motion
     Little Bay avers that the information requested is sensitive
     confidential commercial and financial information that would
     cause great harm if it were released to the public or to persons
     who might use such information to compete with Little Bay or its
     affiliate Great Bay.  Little Bay also avers that the information
     is not readily available to competitors, and would be of value to
     competitors in developing competitive marketing strategies. 
     Thus, Little Bay asserted the information is exempt from
     disclosure under RSA 91-A:5,IV and N. H. Admin. R., Puc 204.06,
     because it includes competitively sensitive data.  
       Little Bay provided the requested information in its
     entirety to Commission Staff and the Office of the Consumer
     Advocate (OCA) pursuant to Puc 204.06, but provided a redacted
     version of the information to the other parties to the proceeding
     that are, or could be, potential competitors.  The OCA, Montaup
     and Public Service Company of New Hampshire and its affiliates
     did not object to the Motion.  New England Power Company (NEP)
     agreed to review the redacted documents but indicated it
     anticipated the need to review the documents in their entirety. 
     In the event NEP requires access to the documents in their
     entirety, Little Bay and NEP have agreed to work out a procedure
     whereby the confidential material will not be reviewed by any
     person who could utilize it to Little Bay's or its affiliate's
       Pursuant to RSA 91-A, the so-called Right-to-Know Law,
     all government meetings and records shall be open and available
     to the public unless they fall within a narrow set of exemptions
     set forth at RSA 91-A:5.  See generally, Union Leader Corporation
     v. New Hampshire Housing Authority, 142 N.H. 540 (1997).  RSA
     91-A:5,IV provides that records pertaining to  "confidential,
     commercial, or financial information" are exempt from the general
     provisions of the Right-to-Know Law that would otherwise subject
     such information to disclosure.  We believe the subject cost
     information falls within the definition of commercial or
     financial information addressed by RSA 91-A:5, IV. 
       The New Hampshire Supreme Court has held, however, that
     information that falls into one of these categories is not, per
     se, exempt from disclosure.  Union Leader Corp., 142 N.H. 540,
     553.  Rather, the Court has held that the negative impact of
     disclosure of the "commercial or financial interest must be
     balanced against the public's interest in disclosure."  Id.; 
     Accord, Re Public Service Company of New Hampshire, Order No.
     23,090 (December 21, 1998); Re New England Telephone Company
     (Auditel), 80 NHPUC 437 (1995); Re Bell Atlantic, Order No.
     22,851 (February 17, 1998); Re EnergyNorth Natural Gas, Inc.,
     Order No. 22,859 (February 24, 1998).  
       Applying this balancing test to the case at hand, we
     conclude, as did the NRC, Little Bay has made a prima facie
     showing that the public's interest in disclosure is outweighed by
     the potential competitive harm to Little Bay.  Thus, the motion
     will be granted subject to further review upon a request by the
     public to review the material pursuant to RSA 91-A.      
       Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby  
       ORDERED, that Little Bay Power Corporation's Motion for
     Confidential treatment and a protective order is GRANTED; and it
        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 twenty-fifth day of January, 1999.
           Douglas L. Patch       Susan S. Geiger     Nancy Brockway
               Chairman           Commissioner          Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Claire D. DiCicco
     Assistant Secretary