Chief Administrative Law Judge Curtis L. Wagner last weekcertified to FERC for its approval the Gas Research Institute (GRI)funding settlement that sets the stage for its seven-year journeyto become a voluntary-funded organization.

The settlement, which was reached in January, “is the absolutebest solution that can be achieved among the numerous [gasindustry] parties with their many diverse and conflictinginterests.

Opposed to the settlement are East Coast Distributors andWashington Gas Light. Still, it “clearly meets the Commission’sdirection for a broadly based [agreement] that would ensure acontinuation of the core program and a transition to voluntaryfunding,” he noted. There are “no issues of material fact” thatshould stand in the way of certification.

The settlement maintains GRI’s 1998 budget at $164 million, andwould cap it at $132 million in 1999 and at $98 million in 2000,with funding covering both core and none-core research anddevelopment (R&D) projects for the natural gas industry. In thefollowing four years (2001-2004), however, only core researchprojects would be included in GRI’s budgets, which would be cappedat $70 million in 2001 and at $60 million in the subsequent years.Starting in 2005, GRI-sponsored gas research would be fundedcompletely through voluntary contributions rather than via amandatory surcharge, as is done now.

©Copyright 1998 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. Thepreceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, inwhole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent ofIntelligence Press,Inc.