Thousands of residents in Buffalo, MN, were without natural gas service Thursday after problems with repair and maintenance work on CenterPoint Energy’s utility gas lines. Officials said it could be two days before the service is restored, the Associated Press reported. CenterPoint representatives did not respond to calls from NGI Thursday afternoon. About 200 CenterPoint Energy crews were working to restore the service, preparing to go to each home to turn gas meters back on and help relight pilot lights, local police told the Associated Press. About 5,500 residents were affected. City officials said the gas could be out for 48 hours or more, which is a concern because snow is in the forecast and overnight lows Thursday, Friday and Saturday are expected to be in the mid 20s. Plans were being prepared to house residents, particularly those in extended care facilities, who might need a warm location for the night.

Nymex Holdings Inc. announced that its shareholders approved its initial public offering (IPO) and related proposals at a special meeting Thursday. More than 91% of the shares voted in favor of the IPO and related proposals. The IPO is subject to several additional conditions, including favorable market conditions and receipt of regulatory approval. Nymex had been contemplating whether or not to hold an IPO for the last year. In March, Nymex Holdings closed on a deal in which General Atlantic LLC invested $160 million for a 10% equity stake in Nymex Holdings. Under that deal, General Atlantic agreed to help Nymex launch an IPO. Nymex said that if the IPO is consummated by Dec. 31 at a price which values Nymex at $2 billion or more, General Atlantic will be required to pay an additional $10 million to Nymex without receiving any additional shares of preferred or common stock. If that occurs, Nymex plans to distribute that additional $10 million as a special dividend to the company’s stockholders of record on March 13, the last business day before the closing of the transaction with General Atlantic.

National Fuel said it filed a proposed settlement at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) regarding a request for an increase in delivery service charges. Under the terms of the settlement, the utility’s delivery service charges will increase by $14.3 million or about 4% of total revenue. This change will increase the average bill of a typical Pennsylvania residential customer using 8,300 cf of gas per month by $5.39, from $120.08 per month to $125.47 per month, beginning Jan. 1, 2007. Prior to this case National Fuel has increased delivery service charges less than 5% since 1995. The company’s current residential customer rate structure will remain unchanged. As part of the settlement, National Fuel withdrew proposed changes to the customer charge, as well as the proposed energy efficiency feature (revenue decoupling), that would have adjusted customer rates if overall usage levels were different than the projected usage levels on which the rates were based. National Fuel said it supports the statewide generic proceeding that the PUC announced in September that will investigate efforts that energy utilities can take to help their customers conserve energy or use it more efficiently. The proceeding will also examine ratemaking mechanisms (including revenue decoupling mechanisms) that might be appropriate to remove any disincentives that would keep utilities in the commonwealth from promoting customer conservation. National Fuel serves more than 215,000 utility customers in 14 counties of northwestern Pennsylvania.

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