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NJ BPU approves base rate changes for New Jersey Natural Gas

Afterencountering delays,the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved 'srate case settlement,expected to boost the utility's total annual revenue by $45 million.

The revenueincrease includes a 9.75% return on equity with a 52.5% common equity ratio andreflects a $1.37 billion rate base with a 6.9% overall rate of return,according to a Sept. 23 news release.The settlement is considerablylower than the $148 million the utility previously requested.

Taking intoaccount a $48 million bill credit, the approved rate changes would result in0.2% decrease on a typical residential heating customer's annual bills,effective Oct. 1. The bill credit will be reflected on customers' bills fromNovember 2016 through February 2017.

As part ofthe decision, the regulator granted a five-year on the utility's Safety and FacilitiesEnhancement program, a $200 million pipe replacement project to modernize itsdistribution system. The program allows NJNG to earn an allowance on itsinvested capital used in construction and request rate increases for spendingin annual filings. These annual filings will consider the rate impacts associated withprogram spending of $157.5 million over its term.

The BPUalso approved the New JerseyResources Corp. subsidiary's basic gas supply service, conservationincentive program and universal service fund rates, the release said.