Natural gas producers scored a victory Wednesday when FERC ruledthey could post surety bonds in lieu of multi-million dollarrefunds to customers that fast coming due on March 9th. The bondmethod guarantees that customers will receive their refundpayments, and it gives producers what they seek most – a delay inpaying out the amounts until disputes over the refunds calculationsare resolved. The downside of this option is that producers will berequired to continue paying interest on the refund principal aslong as the bond remains in effect. Producers also have thealternative of paying their refund amounts into escrow accounts.
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An important juncture in the proposed $5 billion merger ofPacific Enterprises and Enova Corp. is expected this week when anadministrative law judge with the California Public UtilitiesCommission recommends a proposed decision to the five-memberregulatory body. The CPUC is then expected to act by the end ofMarch. No one is expecting the proposed decision or the ultimatefinal one by the state to turn down the marriage of the holdingcompanies for Southern California Gas Co. and San Diego Gas andElectric Co., but it is unclear whether the conditions placed onthe deal will make it financially unattractive for one or both ofthe companies