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SoCalGas Files Final Settlement Proposal to CPUC

SoCalGas Files Final Settlement Proposal to CPUC

Once again up against a regulator-imposed deadline, Southern California Gas on Monday is expected to file its latest attempt at a final, all-parties settlement in California's never-ending natural gas industry restructuring, which has been dragging on for more than two years.

This will be at latest and fourth proposed settlement given to the California Public Utilities Commission, if the large gas LDC makes its filing as it indicated to parties on Friday that it would. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has proposed two settlements related to balancing and other issues on its system, and SoCalGas earlier filed an interim settlement proposal, which is designed to be effective through next year. The final settlement would become effective in 2002, running through Sept. 1, 2006.

SoCalGas was scrambling last week to get as many of the almost 75 stakeholders in the settlement talks to sign on to the proposed final deal.

One of the key goals of regulators has been to have a gas transmission and storage system statewide that was more uniform between the north-south systems of PG&E and SoCalGas, but one of the major stumbling blocks in the discussions has been the aspects of the southern transmission pipeline system that are unique to the southern half of the state.

At the 11th hour in the review process late last week, PG&E expressed concerns about the details of how designated primary and secondary receipt points are treated on the SoCal transmission system, particularly those receipt points for PG&E's system and the Kern/Mojave interstate pipeline.

Included in the proposed final settlement are new receipt points at Hector Road in the high desert west of the Arizona border and the OXY point near Wheeler Ridge and the Kern County area. PG&E expressed last-minute concerns about the market not being allowed to determine who gets primary access rights as a means of ensuring that SoCal does not over-sell these rights at any given receipt point which would eliminate chances for interruptible rights to be available there.

Richard Nemec, Los Angeles

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