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Industry Briefs

Spectra Energy Corp.'s Texas Eastern Transmission LP is holding an open season through Jan. 15 for the Texas Eastern Appalachia to Market Expansion 2013 (TEAM 2013), a proposed expansion of its system to deliver additional Appalachian and Marcellus Shale gas to the Northeast. The TEAM 2013 open season is in addition to the previously announced TEAM 2012 expansion, which will offer customers up to 300 MMcf/d of capacity by the fourth quarter of 2012 (see NGI, Nov. 23). TEAM 2013, with an estimated late 2013 in-service date, will target an expansion of 500 MMcf/d. The project will be scalable and sized to meet customer needs. Shippers will have the opportunity to nominate services from multiple existing and proposed receipt points on the Texas Eastern system within the Appalachian and Marcellus Shale production regions to delivery points across Texas Eastern's market area. For information, contact Riga at (412) 928-3654 or Sean Foley, project director, at (617) 560-1359. Additional information also is at www.spectraenergy.com.

EnCana Corp.'s shareholders have voted 99% in favor of a plan to split the company into independent natural gas and oil businesses (see NGI, Sept. 14). With court approval almost guaranteed, the transaction is scheduled to be effective Monday (Nov. 30). EnCana is to become a pure-play natural gas producer, with nearly all of its assets onshore North America. The newly created Cenovus Energy Inc. is to take over all of EnCana's oilsands operations and integrated oil assets.

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) has approved a small credit for Las Vegas, NV-based Southwest Gas Corp.'s Arizona natural gas utility customers that will stay on retail customers' bills though the first part of 2011, the regulatory commission said. The "surcredit," as the ACC designated it, is effective Tuesday (Dec. 1). The flat surcredit is about 8 cents monthly, benefiting customers in upcoming winter months, an the ACC said. It is now projected to be effective until around March 2011. Southwest Gas currently has an overcollection in its balancing account of about $38 million, but the amount is still below the utility's $55.8 million threshold that would trigger an adjustment. Nevertheless, since the overcollected amounts are projected to get even bigger the ACC and the utility agreed that it made sense to issue the credit now. "The amount of the surcredit approved will pay down the existing overcollection, address continuing overcollections and limit the risk of a large undercollection in the event of future increases in wholesale natural gas prices," said an ACC spokesperson.

The Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has been awarded $816,274 of funding under the federal stimulus package to be applied to employee hiring and training. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding is designated to help the state regulatory commission handle its increased workload caused by various renewable energy, efficiency, smart grid technology, transmission and demand response issues surfacing to address global climate change. Funds will be used to train existing personnel and hire two new staff positions assigned exclusively to the alternative energy sector, said PUC Executive Director Crystal Jackson. "We have seen a substantial increase in activity in these areas, and we expect even more in the coming years," Jackson said. The state regulatory panel is facing a number of major renewable energy, efficiency and transmission cases in the next two years, and the new positions and training funds will be applied to its 2011-2013 fiscal year budgets.

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved a $5.5 million rate increase for Wisconsin Power & Light (WP&L). The increase, which will add about $1.50 to the monthly bill of a typical natural gas customer, is effective Jan. 1. WP&L had requested a $6.2 million (2.6%) increase. The PSC also approved a $60 million electric rate increase, which will add about $6.10 to the monthly bill of a typical electric customer. The approved electric increase was significantly lower than the $85.5 million (9.2%) rate hike WP&L had requested in May. The rate increases are necessary, in large part, to recover fixed costs that result from providing utility service and investments in safety and reliability, renewable energy resources, environmental compliance investments and energy efficiency efforts, WP&L said.

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