Bill to increase natural gas capacity approved

Lawmakers passed a bill April 4 that allows jurisdictional utilities to construct and authorize natural gas pipeline facilities.

Under LB1115, introduced by Norfolk Sen. Mike Flood, a jurisdictional utility may implement a plan to construct rural natural gas infrastructure. Prior to constructing a natural gas facility, the jurisdictional utility will be required to consider factors such as the environmental impact on the area and the project’s economic feasibility.

Following a determination that an area is unserved or underserved, the bill requires a jurisdictional utility to make a tariff filing with the Public Service Commission (PSC) that adjusts the utility’s residential and commercial customer rates to recover costs.

A jurisdictional utility will be required to file proposed rural infrastructure surcharge tariffs with the PSC consistent with the proposed rate increases negotiated in an agreement with a community prior to undertaking rural infrastructure development.

A rural infrastructure surcharge tariff or gas supply adjustment tariff will become effective immediately upon filing of all required items with the PSC, including a copy of the agreement with the community and a map of the underserved area.

The bill also:
• ensures that tariffs are consistent with the proposed rate increase negotiated in an agreement;
• limits a jurisdictional utility’s ability to recover costs to only the customers in a city who are benefitting from the development;
• provides for a refund to rate payers determined to have overpaid for an infrastructure development; and
• limits PSC authority to one annual public hearing and determination of whether rural surcharges reflect the annual cost of development.

LB1115 passed on a 49-0 vote.

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