Sep 8, 2013
06:23 AMThe Connecticut Story
Natural Gas Expansion Plans That Mesh With Malloy's Connecticut Energy Policy Head to Hearings
State utility regulators will begin hearings Tuesday regarding a plan by the state’s three natural gas utilities to undertake a massive expansion of their distribution network.
The three utilities — Yankee Gas, Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas — filed their plan with the state’s Public Utilities Regulatory Authority in June. The plan calls for the utilities to add approximately 280,000 new natural gas customers in Connecticut over the next 10 years.
Officials for all three utilities said Friday they welcome the opportunity to make their case at the hearings as to why the expansion plan is important. Connecticut Natural Gas and Southern Connecticut Gas are owned by New Haven-based UIL Holdings, while Yankee Gas, which is headquartered in Berlin, is owned by Northeast Utilities.
Mitch Gross, a Yankee Gas spokesman, said the utility’s president and chief operating officer, Rod Powell, will make a presentation at the hearing. UIL Holdings Spokesman Michael West called the case the company will make for the expansion “pretty straightforward.”
“We look forward to this getting under way and ultimately hearing the outcome,” West said.
The plan has the backing of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration, which included the expansion effort as a linchpin of the 2013 Comprehensive Energy Strategy for Connecticut that state lawmakers approved during this year’s legislative session.
But even with the backing of the Malloy administration, the expansion plan in its current form is not without detractors. Connecticut’s Consumer Counsel Elin Swanson Katz said in a statement released Friday that the plan will lead to rate increases of up to 3 percent per year on the delivery portion of existing customers’ bills.
In testimony filed in advance of the hearing, Rebecca Bachelder, a consultant hired by the Office of Consumer Counsel, said there are “concerns about the potential expense of the Plan as well as its impact on existing ratepayers.”