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SoCalGas, SDG&E Transmission Pipeline System Revised

California regulators on Thursday approved changes in the intrastate transmission pipeline services for Sempra Energy's two utilities, Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas and Electric Co. (SDG&E), tweaking their firm access rights (FAR), receipt points and the rates charged for transportation.

The Sempra utilities' FAR, which were established in cases at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) five years ago, have been updated to eliminate further scheduling system uncertainty for shippers. There will now be supply transfers at individual receipt points, enabling increased commodity trading and supply administration at those points, according to the CPUC order.

The change should improve the operations of the receipt-point access system and establish the rate design for backbone transmission services on the SoCalGas-SDG&E system, according to CPUC Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon, the lead regulator on the case.

A Sempra utilities spokesperson said the CPUC action "adopts operational modifications that were unanimously recommended by the participating parties to further reduce scheduling uncertainty and improve operations of the FAR system. We will be ready to implement it Oct. 1."

The CPUC approved a $135.2 million revenue requirement for the Sempra pipeline system, representing an annual increase of $87.2 million, but for the most part the increase is offset by reductions of other end-use transmission rates, Simon said. A new rate design proposed by the utilities and major core and noncore customer representatives was also adopted.

Changes in the rates will result in a 163% increase in the firm reservation charge on the transmission system, but Simon said the impact of this increase is somewhat offset by reduction of other end-use transportation pipeline charges.

In their next transmission pipeline cost rate filing, SoCalGas and SDG&E are mandated to prepare a new backbone embedded cost study.

These latest changes are expected to improve the performance of the FAR system during periods when access to the Sempra utilities' pipeline system is constrained, the CPUC said.

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