Environmental activist Anne Marie Mueser, taking her battleagainst Sonat’s northern Alabama extension one step further, hasaccused Commissioner Curt Hebert Jr. of potentially compromisinghis impartiality in the case by corresponding with the pipeline andother supporters of the project. She suggested that Hebert, whovoted for an amended certificate for the Sonat project last week,should have considered recusing himself from the case [see relatedstory].
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CMS Energy Corp. went on a shopping spree yesterday, taking amajor stake in one of the Rocky Mountain region’s hottest newproducing areas, the Powder River Basin, and added to its growingMidcontinent midstream asset base with the purchase of Heritage GasServices, L.L.C.
The screen giveth, and the screen taketh away. Wednesday was aday of taking away much of what had been given to cash prices theday before. As traders continued to play the Hurricane Georgesguessing game (will it or won’t it get close enough to the Gulf ofMexico production area to substantially impact offshore supplies?),quotes were falling across the board but mostly by lesser amountsthan they had risen on Tuesday. With a few exceptions prices werevolatile, with ranges of a dime or more seen at many points.
Taking its name and direction from its unregulated subsidiary,Washington Water Power announced Monday it will be cutting itsdividend by 61% and putting the money saved into growing allaspects of its business. The aim is to grow “a bigger and strongercompany” and the second priority is speed, the company’s newchairman and CEO Tom Matthews said.
After taking Tuesday’s small gain in stride, the bears were atit again yesterday pushing the August contract to test the bottomof a descending channel that has limited movement in the contractsince July 1. However, support held and light buying ensued pushingthe contract up to close at $2.231, down 3.5 cents for the day.
As if taking a cue from the professional basketball team inChicago, the bulls of natural gas were on top again last week atNymex. A short-covering rally that began Wednesday resumed Fridaysending the July contract to $2.284, a 14-cent increase for theday. Estimated volume was a robust 99,631.
California regulators are expected to begin taking a much closerlook next week at proposals to curb market power in the state’s gasindustry, and their decisions could rapidly accelerate convergenceof the gas and electric industries. Included among the proposals isa plan to force the state’s major utilities to divest gastransmission and storage assets and form an independent gastransmission system operator, replicating part of what was done inthe state’s power industry. California natural gas industryrestructuring proceedings are scheduled to move into overdriveduring four day-long hearings starting April 6 in San Francisco.