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Conn. regulator says utilities did not artificially constrain pipeline capacity

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Conn. regulator says utilities did not artificially constrain pipeline capacity

The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ruled that New England local distribution companies did not artificially constrain natural gas pipeline capacity to drive up prices in the region, another regulatory rebuke to an allegation by the Environmental Defense Fund.

In a Dec. 12 decision, the PURA announced that it had "not found any evidence that the LDCs failed to manage their gas supply portfolios on the peak demand days for these winter periods using prudent strategies" following a lengthy investigation launched in response to a report published by the Environmental Defense Fund in October 2017, which alleged wrongdoing by Eversource Energy subsidiary Yankee Gas Services Co. and Avangrid Inc. subsidiaries Connecticut Natural Gas Corp. and Southern Connecticut Gas Co.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the LDCs manipulated regional pipelines to send gas and electricity prices by 38% and 20%, respectively, between 2013 and 2016. This, the group said, cost New England customers an extra $3.6 billion by scheduling deliveries without actually flowing gas.

The PURA's decision came after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in February cleared the LDCs of "anticompetitive withholding of natural gas pipeline capacity" on Enbridge Inc.'s Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC pipeline.

Eversource in December 2017 threatened legal action against the Environmental Defense Fund, whose report also spurred an inquiry in Massachusetts. The utility told the New Haven Register on Dec. 19 that the PURA's decision "essentially reaffirms what we and other regulatory agencies have been stating all along — that the claims made by the EDF were patently false and misleading."