Arizona regulators and East-of-California (EOC) shippers have asked FERC to suspend action on El Paso Natural Gas pipeline’s settlement of California claims until the company files the complete settlement document. The pipeline’s submission of a partial settlement is “merely a tactic” to delay a Commission ruling in the natural gas-price manipulation case against El Paso, they allege.

El Paso and California parties filed a joint settlement and offer of settlement earlier this month, meeting the Commission’s June 4 deadline, but they failed to finalize and submit a master settlement agreement, which is “the most important component of the overall settlement” between El Paso pipeline and the settling parties, the El Paso’s EOC shippers told the Commission (see NGI, June 9).

Moreover, they pointed out the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Los Angeles City Council hadn’t approved the joint settlement before El Paso filed it with FERC [RP00-241]. The CPUC, however, notified the Commission last week that it adopted the joint accord during a June 11 executive session.

“Neither the EOC shippers nor any other non-settling party to this proceeding can make informed comments on the offer of settlement until they are presented with the ‘entire’ settlement offer…What the [settling parties] have submitted to the Commission is…merely a combination of documents, some finished, some pro forma and others yet to be finalized and approved by the settling parties.”

The EOC shippers accused El Paso of filing an “incomplete settlement in an attempt to forestall, yet again, a Commission decision regarding the chief judge’s initial decisions in this proceeding,” which found the pipeline had manipulated gas prices during the California energy crisis, and showed preference to a merchant power affiliate in violation of the agency’s standards of conduct regulations (see NGI, Sept. 30, 2002).

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