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PUC Approves Withdrawal of Laser Northeast Gathering Co.’s Application for Public Utility Status

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) granted Laser Northeast Gathering Co.’s (“Laser”) petition to withdrawal its application to become a public utility.

By a 3-2 vote adopting  a motion by PUC Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Jr., the PUC approved Laser’s petition to withdraw its application and denied the request of certain parties to rescind its prior Orders in the case. PUC Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer and Commissioner James H. Cawley dissented not as to granting withdrawal but as to the issue of whether the prior Orders should be rescinded.

On Jan. 19, 2010, Laser filed for a certificate of public convenience to begin to offer gathering and transporting or conveying service by pipeline to the public in several townships in Susquehanna County.

In June 2011, after a series of public input and evidentiary hearings, the PUC issued an Order in which it determined that Laser’s proposed service was a “public utility” service but remanded the proceeding for a determination, among other things, as to whether Laser’s proposed service was “necessary or proper for the service, accommodation, convenience, or safety of the public” under Section 1103(a) of the Public Utility Code, 66 Pa. C.S. § 1103(a).  On Aug. 25, 2011, the Commission provided clarification to the June 2011 Order by further defining the parameters of the determination that Laser’s proposed service meets the definition of a “public utility.”

Laser filed to withdraw its application on Sept. 8, 2011 citing to the fact that its business plans had changed and it no longer intends to provide service to the public. The motion and upcoming order based upon the motion are significant because, as the motion recognizes, it tells the industry the rules of the road for being or not being a public utility pipeline.  Laser opposed the pipelines who wanted the June and August Orders rescinded for this very reason.

Laser was represented in the matter by Hawke Mckeon & Sniscak’s Tom Sniscak and Bill Lehman.

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