A Pennsylvania natural gas provider wants its customers to help foot the bill for pipelines that would enable it to purchase and distribute more gas produced from the Marcellus Shale.
Equitable Gas’ argument: once the infrastructure is in place, the locally-extracted gas would be cheaper. But as the Tribune-Review reports, Pennsylvania’s consumer advocate is challenging the proposal:
Under a request filed with the Public Utility Commission in Harrisburg, Equitable Gas would use proceeds from its planned production surcharge to buy two gathering pipeline systems in Washington and Greene counties for a combined $1.96 million, then upgrade them to increase production.
The sellers would be two sister companies that also are part of Downtown-based natural gas producer EQT.
State utility regulators on Thursday suspended the surcharge request, kicking off a seven-month investigation that likely will include hearings in the Pittsburgh area, spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said. The state Office of Consumer Advocate and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, representing producers who sell gas through the pipeline networks, have challenged Equitable’s plan.
“The real question for the commission to answer is, there are costs involved that would be borne by the customers of Equitable Gas,” said Sonny Popowsky, the consumer advocate. “We want to make sure the benefits to customers exceed the costs.”