FERC Thursday rejected a complaint alleging that Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) would violate federal regulations and the U.S. Constitution by levying a fee on natural gas-fired generators to gain access to its intrastate gas pipeline.

In the complaint filed in October 2007, a group of generators in southern California argued that the charges are preempted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s exclusive jurisdiction over interstate transportation of natural gas under the Natural Gas Act (NGA). It noted that FERC had deemed a similar type of access charge impermissible in a case involving Union Pacific Fuels in 1996.

“The Commission dismisses the complaint based upon its finding that the FAR [firm access rights] charge does not encroach upon the Commission’s exclusive jurisdiction over gas transported in interstate commerce,” the order said [RP08-27].

“The FAR charge is imposed upon SoCalGas customers who have executed intrastate transportation agreements with SoCalGas, and this charge reflects specific intrastate services that SoCalGas provides to customers. Thus, the FAR charge is not similar to the charge rejected by the Commission in Union Pacific Fuels,” it noted.

In 2006, the California Public Utilities Commission approved the access fee as part of the agency’s plan to integrate the gas transmission systems of SoCalGas and San Diego Gas & Electric.

Generators bringing the complaint included the City of Anaheim; Burbank Water and Power; Glendale Water and Power, Imperial Irrigation District; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; the City of Pasadena; and Reliant Energy Services Inc.

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