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AGL Seeks Extension of FERC Waivers for Unbundling

AGL Seeks Extension of FERC Waivers for Unbundling

Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) last week asked FERC to extend the waivers and limited jurisdiction blanket certificate that were approved a year ago on a limited basis to help carry out the utility's retail gas unbundling program in Georgia.

AGL said it was seeking the extension of the authorizations in advance of their expiration date, which is July 31st, "because it has a pressing need for regulatory certainty and an orderly continuation of its unbundling in the short term. Plans [already] are underway in Georgia to transfer all merchant activities to the marketers this fall. At the same time, storage activities are moving forward in preparation for next winter. [AGL] and the certificated marketers...need to know how Atlanta's upstream storage capacity will be allocated in the future."

Specifically, the Atlanta, GA-based utility asked for an extension of a waiver of FERC regulations that would enable it to make consecutive monthly prearranged releases to marketers of Part 284 capacity obtained under a discounted transportation arrangement with Southern Natural Gas, and to pass through to marketers the benefits of other discount and negotiated deals that it may enter into in the future. It also wants the Commission to continue the waiver for AGL of its "shipper-must-have-title" policy so it can allocate certain interstate capacity to marketers under its Incremental Bundled Storage Service (IBSS).

AGL urged FERC to continue the authorizations "until the earlier of March 31, 2003, or the time that the affected interstate services either expire, are made directly assignable, or [are] converted to Part 284 service, whichever occurs sooner." The extended authorizations being sought will continue to be "limited in scope and will apply only to a small fraction of Atlanta's interstate capacity arrangements," it said.

Although not the "preferred option," the utility said it would go along with extending the waivers and limited jurisdiction blanket certificate for only 18 months - from Nov. 1, 1999 to March 31, 2001 - if that's the only way to obtain "favorable and prompt Commission action."

Retail unbundling in Georgia has "progressed much faster" than anyone expected or predicted partly due to FERC's "willingness to apply its regulations and policies flexibly," according to AGL. Currently nearly 60% of AGL's firm customers (over 852,000 overall) have selected a certificated marketer to supply their gas needs, it said. The utility is expected to become fully unbundled by Oct. 1 of this year, at which time its remaining merchant obligation will terminate.

Susan Parker

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