AGA Eyes Columbia as 'Tool' to Enact Negotiated Plan
The proposal of Columbia Gas Transmission and Columbia Gulf
Transmission calling for FERC to allow the negotiation of terms and
conditions of pipeline services on their systems would provide a
"useful implementation tool for enactment of a generic program,"
the American Gas Association says.
The LDC group noted it reached this conclusion when it compared
the Columbia proposal to the negotiated "principles and procedures"
that it and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America
(INGAA) espoused in a proposal submitted to the Commission in May.
It believes FERC foremost should move ahead with a negotiated
policy on a generic basis, and then it should use the Columbia
pipelines as vehicles to carry out the program.
The Columbia proposal, which was submitted to FERC in June,
falls short of the AGA plan in a couple of areas, AGA conceded, but
it believes this can be ironed out. For example, Columbia's filing
"fails to incorporate" AGA's two-step process, which calls for a
pipeline to establish a high-quality recourse service by filing at
FERC a benchmark for its recourse service, and to list the terms
and conditions that would be non-negotiable.
"To the extent that this can be accomplished through an informal
settlement-type process, filing of comments at FERC, or even
through meetings between Columbia and its customers and amendment
to the filing, this infirmity of the proposal can be overcome," AGA
told FERC last week [RP98-249, RP98-250].
The fact that the Commission seems headed towards reforming its
complaint procedures in a "timely manner" should bode well for the
Columbia proposal as well, AGA said. It believes "Columbia's filing
should continue to be given serious consideration as it has been
filed on a prospective basis only." However, it emphasized that
actual negotiated services shouldn't be allowed until an expedited
complaint process is in place.
The AGA noted that Columbia deferred the issue of allocation of
costs between customized and recourse services to its next general
rate case. Although it also failed to address the same issue in its
May proposal, the LDC group said it has been "very clear" in the
past about its position on the issue - "that is, negotiated
rates/services should not shift costs to recourse customers and
costs must be properly allocated between recourse service and
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