With the increasing attractiveness of natural gas as an alternative transportation fuel, MDU Resources’ Boise, ID-based Intermountain Gas Corp. has asked state regulators to clarify their jurisdiction regarding the sale of gas supplies to third-party nonutility resellers of the fuel. Various suppliers of gas for transportation have approached Intermountain of late.

Intermountain is seeking assurances that the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has no jurisdiction over sales to nonutility gas retailers and it would not consider the gas utility in violation of state law if it sold supplies to third parties, a PUC spokesperson said. The specific issue is Intermountain selling to third parties that in turn will sell compressed natural gas (CNG) to vehicle fleets.

The federal 1992 Natural Gas Policy Act may restrict the regulatory commission’s jurisdiction over the resale of natural gas for transportation purposes, Intermountain has asserted in its filing.

Intermountain has proposed to sell supplies to resellers using its existing tariffs, the PUC spokesperson said.

There are also liability, as well as jurisdictional, concerns that Intermountain has raised in its filing. “The utility has asked that the declaratory order include a statement that the commission will continue to regulate the safety of natural gas facilities operated by Intermountain, but only to the point where the utility’s facility or pipeline connects to a buying customers’ metering device,” the PUC spokesperson said.

The PUC must decide if it concurs with the utility that Intermountain may not be held liable for what happens when its product is resold by third parties.

“Intermountain anticipates other potential resale transactions may be proposed by other entities due to the price, availability and environmental benefits of using natural gas as a transportation fuel,” the spokesperson said. “Some western states, including Washington, Utah and Wyoming, permit public CNG fueling stations.”

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