Monday, September 28, 2009

AARP loses motion in Atlanta Gas Light surcharge case

ATLANTA, Ga. - The Georgia Public Service Commission on Sept. 8 denied a request to force Atlanta Gas Light Co. to disclose information on a planned $400 million pipeline system upgrade requested by one of the project’s critics.
Commissioners voted 4-1 to reject a “motion to compel” filed by AARP Georgia after AGL officials objected to answering questions about the gas utility’s plan to boost the capacity of pipelines throughout metro Atlanta and of three liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facilities in Cherokee and Rockdale counties and the city of Macon.
The 10-year project would be financed by increasing a surcharge the utility already is collecting for a pipeline replacement program.
During a brief debate, Commissioner Bobby Baker introduced a motion to reject a PSC staff recommendation to deny AARP’s request.
Although the AGL proposal is not a typical rate case, Baker argued that the utility raised issues normally associated with such proceedings.
“(The costs of) capital projects typically are recovered through ratemaking,” he said. “If parties like AARP can’t have an opportunity for discussion at this time, they’ll never have an opportunity.”
But commission Chairman Doug Everett said AARP submitted more than 140 questions, so many that forcing AGL to respond would unnecessarily slow the process.
“Some of the questions were, frankly, ridiculous,” added Commissioner Chuck Eaton.
Everett said AARP lawyers will have adequate opportunity to ask questions during two days of PSC hearings on the AGL project, which began on Sept. 9.
Commissioners defeated Baker’s motion, then voted to uphold the staff’s recommendations.

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