Business, Energy, State Government

PSC wants more info on Hope Gas petition to stop pipeline company’s plan to take customer; Mon Power customers to get small refund

MORGANTOWN — The Public Service Commission and PSC staff have expressed some puzzlement about a Hope Gas filing asking the PSC to intervene in a situation where Hope fears it may lose a large industrial customer, and have asked Hope to supply some more information.

In a separate PSC case, Mon Power customers will be getting a small refund in July for a mistake that dates back to 2013.

Hope case

Hope Gas believes one of its industrial customers and another pipeline company are skirting the law with their plan to bypass Hope’s service with a new pipeline connection, and petitioned the PSC to intervene and require them to conform with state regulations.

In its initial April 16 filing, Hope told the PSC that it has provided gas service to the plant for many years. The plant was recently sold but remains a Hope customer. Hope has a confidentiality agreement with the plant and out of an abundance of caution it is not naming the plant or the pipeline company.

Hope has learned that the plant and the pipeline company are in advanced discussions about the company building a pipeline to the plant in order to implement an unregulated bypass around Hope and its service to the plant.

State law allows a person or facility that has not previously been a natural gas utility customer, subject to certain criteria, to receive gas service from any company without PSC review or permission. The law requires the parties to provide notice of intent to the utility providing gas service in the area.

Hope said the plan is illegal because the plant is Hope’s longtime customer and except for being informed orally about the plan, Hope has not received the required formal notice.

Hope asked the PSC for a declaration that the plant is an existing Hope customer and the plan is not eligible for the exemption provided by the unregulated bypass statute, and that the parties must serve the required notice before they either try to make use of the statute or begin permitting and construction.

PSC staff told the commission that instead of petitioning for PSC intervention, Hope should have filed a formal complaint and requested immediate interim relief in order to allow time for the other parties to review Hope’s concerns.

Also, Hope’s petition lacks sufficient facts for PSC to make any kind of decision, staff said — referring only vaguely to oral conversations. The case raises such questions as whether the plant, under new ownership, should be considered a new customer rather than an existing customer.

So the PSC ordered Hope to serve the plant and the pipeline company a copy of its petition and gave them five days to respond after receipt. It said that without further information from them, it can’t determine if the planned bypass is legal.

PSC staff will then file recommendations to the commission, it said in its order. “With expedited cooperation from all interested parties, the commission intends to rule quickly.”

Mon Power case

Back in 2013, in their previous base-rate case, FirstEnergy sisters Mon Power and Potomac Edison misallocated costs totaling $2,546,055, plus “administrative and general” overhead costs of $29,269, for a total error of $2,575,324.

In their 2023 base-rate case, settled in March, the companies agreed to a one-time refund to its customers.

They filed their refund calculation notice with the PSC at the end of last week.

Residential customers will see a refund of $2.84. Refunds will vary based on the type of customer. Churches and schools, for example, will receive a refund of $36.65.


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