Providence Gas Co. (ProvGas) was granted a rematch with state regulators and Aurora Natural Gas of Dallas last week but got only a token $5,000 knocked off of a $323,000 fine the state imposed in September for affiliate favoritism and tariff violations. Judge Stephen T. Scialabba also granted the company’s request for rehearing and reconsideration of $300,000 in refunds to marketers ordered in the Aurora Natural Gas LLC v. Providence Gas Co. case (Docket No. D-98-1).

The refunds originally were ordered because the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers determined that ProvGas made decisions just prior to implementing its retail unbundling program in November of last year that gave one set of marketers, primarily its affiliate Providence Energy Services, free access to balancing services paid for by other marketers (See NGI Sept. 7 issue p.1). While the judge found no reason to reconsider his determination that some form of rate discrimination occurred, he did grant reconsideration of the refund amount. He was persuaded to rehear the case by ProvGas’ argument that the refunds would give certain marketers an unfair advantage over others participating in retail competition inside its territory. The judge stayed the payment of refunds until the amount of the payments is reconsidered.

Upon review, the judge also decided to rescind five out of 23 affiliate rules violations because the regulations governing branding and the use of corporate logos are unclear. The Division will seek further clarification from the public utility commission on the matter, he said.

Rocco Canonica

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