The proposal of Columbia Gas Transmission and Columbia GulfTransmission calling for FERC to allow the negotiation of terms andconditions of pipeline services would provide a “usefulimplementation tool for enactment of a generic program,” theAmerican Gas Association says.

The LDC group noted it reached this conclusion when it comparedthe Columbia proposal to the negotiated “principles and procedures”that it and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America(INGAA) espoused in a joint proposal submitted to the Commission inMay. It believes FERC first should move ahead with a negotiatedpolicy on a generic basis, and then it should use the Columbiapipelines 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, butit believes this can be ironed out. For example, Columbia’s filing”fails to incorporate” AGA’s two-step process, which calls for apipeline to establish a high-quality recourse service by filing atFERC a benchmark for its recourse service, and to list the termsand conditions that would be non-negotiable.

“To the extent that this can be accomplished through an informalsettlement-type process, filing of comments at FERC, or eventhrough meetings between Columbia and its customers and amendmentto the filing, this infirmity of the proposal can be overcome,” AGAtold FERC last week [RP98-249, RP98-250].

But “pipelines, including Columbia, should not be permitted toimplement negotiated terms and conditions of service until a newcomplaint procedure is in place,” the group cautioned. “Since theCommission is updating its complaint processes in a timely manner,Columbia’s filing should continue to be given serious considerationas it has been filed on a prospective basis only.”

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