(AP) – In addition to the pressure of higher prices for oil heat compared with increasingly popular and less costly natural gas, home heating businesses in Connecticut face a particular problem as state policy promotes the sale of natural gas.
_ Connecticut regulators issued a draft ruling on Wednesday approving an ambitious, massive plan to expand natural gas service to about 280,000 new customers across the state over the next decade. It’s part of a drive to put downward pressure on energy prices.
SPREADING OUT THE COST
_ The draft ruling by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Wednesday approves the proposal by three investor-owned gas companies _ Connecticut Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas and Yankee Gas. The typical homeowner would face no up-front connection costs and would pay an extra 10 percent premium on his or her monthly bills for 10 years. The average-size business would pay an extra 50 percent premium. Regulators are expected to make a final ruling by Nov. 21.
_ Oil dealers are insisting that utility shareholders bear most of the cost, arguing that the expansion in natural gas pipelines and capital equipment will directly benefit the utilities. Regulators are expected to issue a final ruling on Nov. 21.
_ Connecticut does not have direct access to natural gas fields like New York and Pennsylvania, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has sought to minimize an increase in other states of drilling known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that could result from the enormous rise in natural gas use planned for Connecticut. Energy companies will drill for natural gas regardless of what Connecticut does, he said.
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