Washington state regulators have imposed a $275,000 penalty on Cascade Natural Gas Corp. and ordered the Kennewick, WA-based utility to issue more than $190,000 in refunds to customers for improper billing practices. Washington's Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) approved a settlement following a staff investigation that revealed Cascade had violated state laws and rules related to calculating and assessing late-payment charges. Based on the settlement, Cascade will refund $192,258 to customers who were improperly charged between June 1, 2012 and Dec. 31, 2013, in addition to paying the penalty.

Marabou Superior Pipeline recently completed a 19,000-foot natural gas pipeline and began gas service to the new Arcadia Sand LLC sand mine in Arcadia, WI. The facility is capable of processing up to 310 tons of sand per hour. The project is Marabou's fourth pipeline serving the burgeoning sand mine industry in Wisconsin. Arcadia contracted with Marabou in 2014 for the design and construction of the six-inch diameter pipeline. Marabou also is the gas supplier to the Arcadia facility under a long-term sales agreement.

The Panama Canal Authority is exploring the potential to add a liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure at the canal to take advantage of the anticipated LNG tanker traffic once the canal's expansion project is completed next year. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) has issued a grant to support the study of the benefits of LNG infrastructure at the canal USTDA said last week. "As we near the completion of the Panama Canal Expansion, we are eager to explore new segments such as LNG, which are now possible given our enhanced capacity to accommodate longer and wider ships. This grant by the USTDA will build on plans and projects related to LNG that are already ongoing and will present us with the ability to evaluate additional market opportunities and client services for the benefit of the U.S.-Panama energy trade," said Canal Administrator Jorge Quijano. The USTDA-funded feasibility study will help the ACP set priorities and plan projects related to LNG infrastructure and natural gas utilization at the Panama Canal. The LNG terminal is anticipated to support the implementation of maritime- and energy-related projects that will accommodate increased shipping traffic through the expanded canal (see Daily GPIJan. 9).

NGL Energy Partners LP and Meritage Midstream Services II LLC are forming a joint venture (JV) to develop crude oil gathering and water services infrastructure to serve oil and gas producers in Wyoming's Powder River Basin. The JV will focus on crude oil and wastewater gathering pipelines, pipeline injection terminals, wastewater and solid waste disposal facilities, and fresh water supply. The JV would have access to and operate on Meritage's dedicated acreage in the Powder River Basin.  NGL and Meritage are also committed to exploring pipeline connectivity options from the Powder River. The partners plan to evaluate the use of NGL's regional assets to capture marketing capabilities at both Cushing and the Gulf Coast markets.

Organizers in four Ohio counties have submitted petitions with thousands of signatures to local election boards in the hopes of placing a charter amendment on this year's ballot that would give local governments more say in natural gas pipeline development. Groups in Medina, Athens, Meigs and Fulton counties submitted the petitions in response to Spectra Energy Corp.'s plans for itsNEXUS gas transmission pipeline. The 250-mile line would travel through 18 Ohio counties to deliver Utica and Marcellus shale gas to Ohio, Michigan and Ontario. As proposed, the pipeline would not travel through Medina, Athens and Meigs counties, however. Local election officials are expected to certify the petitions by next month. Earlier this year, though, the Ohio Supreme Court upheld the state's role in regulating oil and gas development (see Shale DailyMarch 9Feb. 17). NEXUS would also be an interstate pipeline regulated by the federal government.