Belatedly, after delaying a decision for several months, California regulators are expected to okay Southern California Gas Co.’s proposal to free up 14 Bcf of previous cushion gas at two of its underground storage fields and sell the supplies on the open market. It was originally proposed in the days of shorter supplies and higher wholesale prices. A vote Wednesday is expected, according to state regulator Geoffrey Brown, briefing news media Tuesday.

The proposal was part of a broader SoCalGas effort last year to beef up its transmission pipeline and storage infrastructure to allow greater capacity in the southern half of the state — something that regulators and industry participants have been recommending for a long time.

The five-member California Public Utilities Commission will choose between one order that would set the terms and conditions for the utility’s sale of the reclassified supplies, and another that would authorize the sale, but hold off determining how the net proceeds should be allocated and other ratemaking aspects of the move by SoCalGas. The latter would be handled in a Phase 2 proceeding as part of this case, and it is being recommended by CPUC Commissioner Brown..

At stake are the use of now sequestered cushion supplies at SoCal’s Aliso Canyon underground storage facility north of Los Angeles and a second, La Goleta storage facility west of Santa Barbara along the south-facing Southern California coast.

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