Astronomy Picture of the Day

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

****BRAKING, ERR, BREAKING #Fracking #Gaz Update Call to Action to curb Fraction, err, #Fracking

LIVE FROM MONKTON,VERMONT,

Let me assure you, friends, this is a chance to put a chink in the armored, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent,
Out of touch,
Old administration fragments of old deals.

my sincere appreciation of Melanie cannot be put into words...

Hi Everyone!

On Thursday and Friday December 8th and 9th (and possibly on the 12th, 13th, and 14th), the Public Service Board will be taking testimony regarding VGS's rates and also regarding VGS's alternative regulation plan. These two dockets will affect how rates are calculated for different kinds of customers, what return on equity VGS is allowed to receive (the way that the company profits from its infrastructure investments and makes money in general) AND how much of the total cost of the pipeline VGS will be allowed to recover from customers.  This last bit is really important because VGS and DPS kept saying during the second remand proceedings that the approval of the Project was a completely different question from whether customers could be charged for it or the ANGP costs could be recovered from ratepayers! They said those issues would have to addressed in VGS's rate case. WELL, THE RATE CASE and VGS'S FINANCIAL RECKONING HAVE FINALLY ARRIVED! 

If you have time, please attend one or more of the upcoming technical hearings to make sure that Public Service Board knows that we are still paying attention, and we don't think that VGS should get a penny from Vermonters for any unjustified expenditures to build an ill-conceived and mismanaged project. 

WHEN:  December 8th, 9th, 12th, 13th, and 14th (the last day or two could be cancelled if they get through all of the testimony earlier) - starting at 9:30 AM and likely running throughout the day until 4:30 p.m. or thereafter. The actual schedule will probably be discussed on the first day. I will send out an update that evening. 

WHERE:  The hearings will be in Montpelier. Most will take place in the Pavilion Building, but one day of hearings will be at the PSB in the People's Bank Building.

12/8: The Pavilion Auditorium, Pavilion Building, 109 State Street. Enter through the side entrance on Governor Davis Avenue.  Photo ID required!

12/9: The Pavilion Auditorium, Pavilion Building, 109 State Street. Enter through the side entrance on Governor Davis Avenue.  Photo ID required!

12/12: Vermont Public Service Board, Susan M. Hudson Hearing Room, Third Floor, People's United Bank Building, 112 State Street, Montpelier, Vermont

12/13: The Pavilion Auditorium, Pavilion Building, 109 State Street. Enter through the side entrance on Governor Davis Avenue.  Photo ID required!

12/14: The Pavilion Auditorium, Pavilion Building, 109 State Street. Enter through the side entrance on Governor Davis Avenue.  Photo ID required!

REMEMBER: THESE HEARINGS ARE ABOUT WHAT VGS WILL BE ALLOWED TO CHARGE CUSTOMERS IN ITS RATES. THAT INCLUDES WHETHER AND HOW MUCH THE COMPANY CAN CHARGE FOR THE ADDISON NATURAL GAS PROJECT! Whatever the PSB says VGS can't charge customers, VGS, Gaz Metro, and their investors and shareholders will have to pay out-of-pocket!


BACKGROUND:

The MOU that VGS and DPS signed to save the project from cancellation late last year put a cap on how much VGS could recover from customers with a couple of exceptions like costs associated with protests or vandalism and costs associated with "delayed access to the ROW." HOWEVER, VGS is still obligated to prove that its expenditures were prudent, that they are "known and measurable" and that customers will actually benefit directly from the infrastructure. In addition to the ANGP, VGS is seeking to include the Phase VII looping project and over 40 smaller capital projects or system upgrades in rates.

DPS's cost assessment and rate expert originally said that the PSB would be justified in denying ALL of VGS's approximately $168 million costs for capital projects because of imprudent decisions (mostly stemming from poor project management), poor record keeping, and the company's inability to prove that the costs could be measured accurately, including when the projects would actually go into service. Finally, he questioned whether some infrastructure upgrades would actually benefit customers this coming year or at all. The big takeaway from his testimony is that there are several instances in which VGS didn't provide ANY reliable supporting documentation for hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars of expenses, but because the projects themselves either are necessary for the functioning of VGS's system or a total denial of recovery of costs would be a financial hardship for VGS, he still recommends allows the entire or nearly the entire cost. 

HOWEVER, despite the fact that he could have recommended disallowing all costs, he actually only recommended disallowing ONLY $35 million of over $168 million in proposed cost recovery (including the $134 million under the ANGP rate cap MOU) and another $34 million for the Phase VII looping and other projects! In the past, when this same consultant has recommended disallowing some costs, the PSB has ultimately decided to disallow even less than recommended! THE PSB NEEDS TO KNOW THAT PEOPLE ARE PAYING ATTENTION! 

The Board held a public hearing on the rate case in Colchester this past summer before all of the information was made available to the public and before the Department of Public Service's accounting expert made his final evaluation and recommendations, which can be found here: http://psb.vermont.gov/sites/psb/files/docketsandprojects/gas/8698-8710/DPSSurreb/10-%20Schultz%20Vermont%20Gas%20Surrebuttal%20-%20Oct%2031.pdf (the most interesting parts related to the ANGP are from pages 7-72; it's double spaced with really narrow margins so it's shorter than it seems). IF YOU CAN'T ATTEND A HEARING YOU CAN STILL SEND COMMENTS TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE BOARD AT: psb.clerk@vermont.gov Just remember that this case is about whether VGS customers should have to pay for the pipeline. Whether the project was a good idea in the first place given climate change, environmental devastation, etc. isn't under review. This case will determine who pays for all of VGS's mismanagement and wasteful expenditures if this pipeline ever goes into service. 


It's also important that the PSB know whether VGS ratepayers are actually wiling to pay for imprudent expenditures and bills, for which VGS can't even produce invoices or receipts! So, if you have friends, who are ratepeysers, let them know that they can send their opinions and public comments to the PSB at: psb.clerk@vermont.gov

Perhaps most importantly, at this stage of the game - considering the elections and the fact that a new administration will be coming in - Please help educate the public (and our new Governor and legislators) about this very complex topic - at least so that the average natural gas customer understands that he or she is being charged for pipeline construction costs that resulted from poor management or that haven't even been supported with receipts, estimates, or work orders!!!! LET THEM KNOW THAT THIS IS AN OUTRAGE AND PEOPLE WON'T STAND FOR VGS GETTING A BLANK CHECK TO SPEND RATEPAYERS' MONEY WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY. 

Maybe if VGS has to pay its own way for unnecessary, environmentally disastrous and obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure, pipeline expansion won't be quite so attractive. 

In the meantime, hopefully, the Geprags Park Protectors will stop the ANGP (and then all of the project's costs could be denied!).

“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.” Buddha


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