HARTFORD, BOSTON: Eversource Energy [NYSE: ES] released a statement saying it was putting the Environmental Defense Fund [EDF] “on notice that the company will pursue legal action if EDF doesn’t halt its false and defamatory statements regarding Eversource’s gas purchasing practices.”
The company said to EDF, “your false and misleading statements are immediately actionable and expose you and those acting in concert with you to liability for substantial damages,” the Cease and Desist letter states. “If you do not cease and desist from all further publication of such statements, Eversource will take all appropriate action; indeed, we have retained outside counsel to protect our rights.”
The letter is response to a "report" by the EDF that Eversource and Avantgrid manipulated the supply of Natural Gas causing prices to be higher for the gas to consumers and power producers.
A spokesperson for EDF Jon Coifman said, ““We stand by the analysis and reject this obvious attempt to intimidate and chill legitimate public inquiry."
Orange based Avantgrid a unit of the global energy company Iberdola, based in Bilbao Spain, operates as United Illuminating in the New Haven region.
The stakes are high for Eversource and Avantgrid which have been attacked in a class action suit seeking $3.6 billion for consumers, based in part on the material presented by EDF.
The lawsuit filed in November in Boston federal court claims that Eversource Energy and Avangrid Inc. hve manipulated the market to “jack up" consumer’s bills.
Attorney Tom Sobol of the law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP is representing twelve plaintiffs representing the class.
The $3.6 billion is the amount the plaintiffs claim the utilities have caused consumers to pay in higher gas and electricty prices because of their supply "manipulation:. The EDF report and the suit claim that the utilities “reserved” more gas than was necessary from 2013- to 2016, causing a higher gas price and costing more than 7 million New England utility customers to pay 20% higher prices.
In response to the reserve issue tEversource spokesperson Tricia Modica said, “the pipeline capacity we reserve is done so to meet the needs of our customers and no other purpose.”
While Avantgrid has not said it was suing EDF the company has said it “will vigorously defend against these [the suit’s] claims.”