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Blue-Flame Blues: Gas Pilots Sputter at Burnertip

Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1997

to provide gas to unserved parts of Maine. The commission was compiling comments after the June 17 deadline; the next step would be to recommend a rulemaking.

New Hampshire. This state is participating in the Massachusetts gas collaborative and will await those results before taking on residential unbundling in earnest, expected within one to two years. New Hampshire's two gas utilities

are Northern Utilities (a Bay State subsidiary) and EnergyNorth Inc. Commercial-industrial rates have been unbundled since Sept. 7, 1993 (See, Docket DE 91-149, Order No. 20,950, 1993 WL 733620). A transportation rate hearing recently eliminated minimum transportation volumes. A recent order approved methods for setting the gas transportation rate (See, DE 95-121, Order No. 22,671, July 28, 1997). Technically, anyone can receive gas transportation in the state, but access charges on transportation range up to $284 per month because customers have expensive telemetering equipment.

New York. On March 28, 1996 the commission ordered utilities to offer aggregated transportation service to the state's 4.5 million residential and small commercial-industrial customers, with limits (Case 93-G-0932, 1996 N.Y. PUC LEXIS 66; rehearing denied, Sept. 13, 1996, 172 PUR4th 283). About 2,900 larger industrials have had unbundled rates for about 12 years. On June 5, the commission began investigating reducing gas cost volatility and providing alternative ways to buy gas, specifically through fixed price or standard offer options (Case 97-G-0600, 1997 WL 411427). Comments were being accepted through Sept. 8. The commission expected to make a decision so that fixed-price options would be available for the 1997-98 heating season.

Rhode Island. Valley Gas Co. and Providence Gas Co. have unbundled their tariffs on different schedules. Valley Gas is exploring unbundling for all 65,000 of its customers but so far has offered choice only to its 35 largest industrial-commercial users; six chose to go to transportation. Aug. 8 was the filing deadline for comments in a second phase of the Providence Gas case (Docket No. 2552). The second phase will expand the pilot to more than 5,000 customers, none residential. An August hearing was set.

Vermont. Vermont may tackle the issue of gas unbundling this fall.

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