PSNC Energy (PSNC), announced on October 31 that, in a unanimous, 7-0 decision, the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has issued an Order (Docket No. G-5 Sub 565) in the utility’s general rate case application authorizing PSNC to increase its base rates.
The public utility distributes natural gas to around 536,000 customers in North Carolina. This represents its first general rate hike since 2008.
While PSNC originally filed for a $41.6 million (or 9.7 percent) increase in revenues, the amended stipulation provides for a total increase of about half – $19 million (or 4.39 percent) – of which $276,576 will be recovered through an increase in other operating revenues.
In addition, the Order established the authority for PSNC to implement an Integrity Management rider and establish regulatory accounting treatment for distribution integrity management operations and maintenance expenses. This will allow PSNC to track and provide for ongoing recovery of expenses related to PSNC’s transmission and distribution pipeline; so that future demonstrated costs of safety and reliability upgrades can be added annually without a full rate case. Piedmont Natural Gas got the same sort of rider during its last rate case in 2013.
“Since 2008, PSNC Energy has taken a number of steps to ensure that its system is well-positioned to serve its customers now and in the future,” said utility COO Rusty Harris. “PSNC Energy’s customer base has grown as demand for natural gas continues to grow. The commission’s Order will allow us to recover costs associated with the investments needed to provide safe and reliable service to our customers as well as enhance and expand our system to serve our customers more efficiently.”
Indeed, PSNC has spent $609 million on capital investments since 2008, according to a report in the Charlotte Business Journal. The utility has installed more than 1,424 miles of transmission and distribution pipelines; and has added about 77,000 customers. What’s more, in the February filing, PSNC estimated that it would spend an additional $149 million in plant capital investments by June 30, before the rates would be approved this fall.
The new PSNC rates became effective on November 1.