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State readies expansion blueprint for natural gas

Published November 09. 2013 4:00AM

The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority has issued a draft ruling approving broad expansion of natural gas service throughout the state.

The proposed expansion plans filed by Connecticut's three investor-owned gas companies seek to convert 280,000 customers to natural gas over a 10-year period. The plans target customers who have gas available on their street but have not connected as well as those potential customers interested in gas service, but not close enough to existing gas facilities.

To facilitate natural gas expansion, PURA said its draft ruling would ease the criteria the gas companies use to evaluate the economics of new projects, aimed at reducing upfront costs required from new customers connecting to the gas distribution system. The preliminary ruling would also establish new rate and recovery mechanisms. New customers added after Jan. 1 would be charged a premium over current rates to offset incremental costs of expansion, in lieu of making an upfront payment. After the initial 10 years of service, the "new" customer would return to standard rates.

Recent legislation directed Connecticut Natural Gas, Yankee Gas Services Co. and the Southern Connecticut Gas Co. to file the infrastructure expansion plans consistent with goals articulated in the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection's 2013 Comprehensive Energy Strategy.

Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern propose to convert 29,500 low-use customers to heating, add 113,700 new on-main customers and 54,000 new off-main customers by 2023. Yankee proposes to convert 10,000 low-use customers to heating, add 41,296 new on-main customers and 31,125 off-main customers by 2023.

Written comments on the program should be filed with the office of Nicholas Neeley, acting executive secretary of PURA by Nov. 12 at: nicholas.neeley@ct.gov. PURA's three commissioners will hear oral arguments at 2:30 p.m. Nov. 14 at its offices at 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, and are scheduled to issue a final ruling Nov. 21. The plan can be found at: www.ct.gov/pura, docket number: 13-06-02.

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