Washington state regulators approved a $17.8 million, or 8.7%, decrease in retail natural gas utility rates for Cascade Natural Gas Corp. The decrease is the net effect of two decisions by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) — one related to Cascade’s annual purchased gas adjustment (PGA) to reflect changes in the wholesale costs of its gas supply purchases, and the other approved an all-party settlement in the gas utility’s last general rate case. In July UTC approved the all-party settlement, resulting in a $4 million, or 1.6%, general rate hike, but the PGA more than offset that resulting in an overall rate reduction.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Wednesday authorized construction to start on Phase I of the Hillabee Expansion Project [CP15-16]. The authorization includes the loops known as Billingsley, Proctor Creek, Hissop, and Alexander City, as well as appurtenant facilities, workspaces and access roads. The project will add capacity to Williams Partners LP‘s Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (Transco) system in three phases in order to serve Florida demand via the Sabal Trail Transmission project. It will provide incremental firm capacity from receipt points at Transco’s Station 85 in Choctaw County, AL, to a proposed interconnection between Transco and Sabal Trail in Tallapoosa County, AL. Sabal Trail will acquire by lease 100% of the Hillabee capacity on a long-term basis (see Daily GPI, March 11).