Application of Laser Northeast Gathering Company, LLC

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On May 19, 2011, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (“PUC” or “Commission”) announced its long-awaited decision regarding the Laser Northeast Gathering Company, LLC (“Laser”), case that contains vital issues of first impression developed in a contested, on-the-record Application proceeding. While the final PUC Order has not yet been issued, the details, as gleaned from the various Commissioners’ statements, provide insight and PUC direction as to its ultimate ruling in this contentious matter.

Background

By way of brief background, on January 19, 2010, Laser filed with the PUC an Application for a Certificate of Public Convenience to begin to offer gas gathering by pipeline to the public, in certain areas of Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania and transporting (or conveying) service through to Broome County, New York to a tie-in with the Millennium interstate pipeline. Laser argued that the Public Utility Code provisions are clear that transporting natural gas “to or for the public” (open to a first-come, first-served basis up through system capacity) comprises Public Utility service. Laser also argued that “minimal rate regulation,” or “light-handed regulation,” had a firm statutory basis, and in fact was already in practice and otherwise endorsed by the PUC.

Many Protests and Petitions to Intervene were subsequently filed, including by several state advocates, many industry participants, many affected landowners, and several PA legislators. On September 10, 2010, Laser and several parties submitted a Joint Petition for Settlement (“Settlement”) intended to resolve all issues. Briefs and Reply Briefs were filed by the settling parties, as well as other active, non-settling parties.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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