DR 98-135
                    Northern Utilities, Inc.
                    Integrated Resource Plan
              Order Approving Procedural Schedule
                    O R D E R   N O.  23,158
                         March 9, 1999
       APPEARANCES:  LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae, L.L.P. by
     Paul B. Dexter, Esq. for Northern Utilities, Inc. and Michelle A.
     Caraway for the Staff of the New Hampshire Public Utilities
               On June 11, 1998, Northern Utilities, Inc. (Northern)
     filed a request with the New Hampshire Public Utilities
     Commission (Commission) to modify the filing dates, filing
     guidelines and review process of the Integrated Resource Plans
     (IRP) for each natural gas local distribution company (LDC) in
     New Hampshire.  Northern stated its belief that the IRP filing
     guidelines for LDCs and the review process can be improved
     through a more informal and streamlined approach which is more in
     line with the state of the industry today.  The IRP filings would
     be filed by November 30, 1998.
               After an informal technical session with Northern and
     EnergyNorth Natural Gas, Inc. (ENGI), Commission Staff (Staff)
     recommended in a memo dated June 26, 1998 that the Commission
     adopt Northern's requested changes to the IRP process and apply
     the changes to both Northern and ENGI.  Staff believed that the
     IRP process can be efficiently addressed through a coordination
     of efforts between Northern's and ENGI's dockets and recommended
     that all changes to the IRP process apply to both LDCs.     
               In its June 26, 1998 memo, Staff stated that some other
     party might be interested in the IRP filings as well as the
     format in which they would be filed with the Commission.  To
     address this concern, Staff recommended that other interested
     parties should be identified early in the process so that any
     suggested modifications could be reviewed and incorporated into
     the IRP filings, as appropriate.  
               By Orders of Notice issued on July 22, 1998 in this
     proceeding and in ENGI's IRP docket (DR 98-134), the Commission
     scheduled Prehearing Conferences for August 20, 1998, set
     deadlines for intervention requests and objections thereto, and
     scheduled a joint technical session to immediately follow the
     Prehearing Conferences.  No party filed for intervention.  The
     Office of the Consumer Advocate (OCA) is a statutorily recognized
     intervenor.  Due to Northern's failure to properly notice the
     Prehearing Conference, on August 20, 1998, the Commission
     reissued the Order of Notice for Northern and rescheduled the
     Prehearing Conference to September 10, 1998.  Also on August 20,
     1998, the Commission issued a secretarial letter to ENGI
     rescheduling its Prehearing Conference to September 10, 1998.
               Subsequently, the Prehearing Conferences were held on
     September 10, 1998 and were followed by a brief joint technical
     session.  At the technical session, Northern, ENGI and Staff
     discussed whether the LDCs needed to file avoided cost studies as
     part of their IRP filings.  The LDCs and Staff agreed that if the
     LDCs were to continue their demand-side management (DSM) programs
     into the 1999/2000 program year, then avoided cost studies must
     be filed within their respective IRPs so that the DSM programs
     could be properly screened for cost-effectiveness. 
               On September 23, 1998, Staff filed a memo stating that
     there were no intervenors in either LDC's proceeding and
     recommending that the Commission approve the review process
     agreed to by Northern, ENGI and Staff.  On October 12, 1998, the
     Commission determined that Northern's underlying request for
     revising the IRP filing process was reasonable and that it should
     be applied to both LDCs.  The LDCs were required to make their
     filings by November 30, 1998 but the filings need not include
     avoided cost studies.  Through Order No. 23,047 (October 27,
     1998) and Order No. 23,068 (November 23, 1998) addressing ENGI's
     and Northern's 1998/1999 DSM Program filings, respectively, the
     Commission stated that should the LDCs decide to continue the DSM
     programs into the 1999/2000 program year, then avoided cost
     studies must be filed in their respective IRP dockets by May 15,
               On November 25, 1998, Northern requested a four day
     extension to file its IRP.  On December 3, 1998, the Commission
     granted Northern's extension.  On December 4, 1998, Northern
     requested a further extension to file its IRP, now requesting
     that the IRP be filed on or before January 29, 1999.  On December
     11, 1998, Staff filed its objection to Northern's request for a
     two-month extension.  On December 16, 1998, Northern requested
     that it be allowed to submit its IRP in two phases: the first
     half would be filed on December 22, 1998 and the second half
     would be filed on either January 8, 1999 or January 29, 1999,
     each based on the then most current information.  Also, on
     December 16, 1998, Northern filed a Motion for Confidential
     Treatment of a letter explaining the reasons for Northern's
     request for an extension of filing its IRP.  On December 22,
     1998, Northern submitted the first half of its IRP.  On December
     31, 1998, the Commission approved Northern's request for a
     phase-in of its IRP, with the complete filing due no later than
     January 8, 1999.  On January 8, 1999, Northern filed the final
     portion of its IRP.  On February 1, 1999, the Commission issued
     Order No. 23,136 granting Northern's request for confidential
               On March 5, 1999, Staff filed a recommendation with the
     Commission proposing a procedural schedule to govern the
     proceeding.  Staff recommended that consistent with the IRP
     review process proposed by Northern and approved by the
     Commission, the procedural schedule will consist of discovery and
     technical sessions, with a hearing before the Commission.  The
     proposed procedural schedule is as follows:
               Data Requests                            March 17, 1999
               Technical Session                        March 25, 1999
               Data Requests                            April 28, 1999
               Technical Session                          May 12, 1999
               Filing of Avoided Cost Study, if any       May 15, 1999
               Data Requests                              June 2, 1999
               Technical Session                         June 16, 1999
               Hearing                           date to be determined
     Staff stated that the need for additional discovery or Staff
     testimony is unknown at this time.  Staff will evaluate the need
     to extend the procedural schedule dependent upon the extent of
     the review process required of the avoided cost study which may
     be filed by Northern on or before May 15, 1999.  Therefore, Staff
     recommended that the remainder of the procedural schedule be held
     in abeyance.  Should Northern submit its study, Staff will review
     the filing and submit a proposed procedural schedule to govern
     the remainder of the proceeding to ensure that a complete record
     is developed for the Commission.
               Staff stated in its memo that it sought and obtained
     the concurrence of both Northern and the OCA.
               We find the proposed procedural schedule to be
     reasonable and will, therefore, approve it for the duration of
     the proceeding.  Both the Energy Efficiency Working Group and the
     Gas Unbundling Collaborative are expected to file reports with
     the Commission this spring or early summer.  The Commission plans
     to move ahead to resolve outstanding DSM issues relative to the
     natural gas industry expeditiously thereafter.
               Based upon the foregoing, it is hereby 
               ORDERED, that the procedural schedule delineated above
     is APPROVED.
               By order of the Public Utilities Commission of New
     Hampshire this ninth day of March, 1999.
           Douglas L. Patch       Susan S. Geiger     Nancy Brockway
               Chairman           Commissioner          Commissioner
     Attested by:
     Thomas B. Getz
     Executive Director and Secretary