PUC Streamlines Gas Cost Rate Filings for Small Gas Companies

            The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently issued a final rule making order concerning recovery of fuel costs by gas utilities at Docket No. L-2013-2346923.  The full order can be found here:  http://www.pabulletin.com/secure/data/vol46/46-4/110.html  The Order is designed to simplify and streamline information and procedures for small gas utilities (gross intrastate operating revenues of $40 million or less) when submitting gas cost rate (GCR) filings with the PUC. 

            Specifically, in this Order, the PUC implements the following changes to its regulations: (1) classify all natural gas utilities not qualifying for 1307(f) treatment as small gas utilities; (2) modify the schedules included in small gas utilities’ GCR filings for purposes of efficiency; (3) provide small gas utilities with uniform time schedules to allow more accurate gas cost projections as winters approach; (4) allow small gas utilities to collect interest, at the prime rate for commercial borrowing, on both net over and under collections from ratepayers; (5) eliminate the requirement that at least 90% of a small gas utility’s annualized gas costs be rolled into base rates; and (6) implement a GCR interim tariff filing procedure to be effective on ten days’ notice. 

Highlights of each Section: 

            52 Pa. Code 53.63 - classifies gas utilities into two types: Large (gross intrastate operating revenue over $40 million) and Small ($40 million or less).

             52 Pa. Code 53.66 - sets filing requirements for small gas utilities when filing GCR tariffs under 1307.  Subsection (a)(1) lists 11 Schedules that must be included with the filing.  Subsection (a)(2) allows for small gas utilities to file a preliminary and a final GCR to be effective November 1.  The preliminary filing is to be made by September 2.  The final filing should be made on October 2.  Subsection (c) requires small gas utilities to file a reconciliation statement under 1307(e) for the 12-month period running from Sept. 1 through August 31 by October 1.  Subsection (d) allows small gas utilities to collect interest on both over and under collections from ratepayers.  Subsection (e) states the notice requirements to customers when recovering fuel costs under the GCR and Subsection (g) requires small gas utilities to monitor GCR activity to avoid becoming materially over/under collected by more than 2% which would allow the small gas utility  to submit an interim GCR filing to be effective on 10 days’ notice.

             52 Pa. Code 53.68 - requires small gas utilities filing a GCR to provide notice within 5 days of the preliminary filing (or by Sept. 7) by publishing in a major newspaper within the utility's service area.

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