by Kate Shunney
Gas company executives are asking West Virginia utility regulators to approve the sale of a West Virginia natural gas company to a Pennsylvania gas supply corporation.
The Public Service Commission of West Virginia will hold a public comment hearing on July 20 on the proposed sale of Mountaineer Gas to UGI Corporation.
Mountaineer Gas serves roughly 215,000 customers and operates natural gas operations in 50 West Virginia counties, including Morgan County and neighboring Berkeley County.
The company in recent years built a 23-mile natural gas distribution line from north-eastern Morgan County along U.S. 522 to connect to existing natural gas lines in Berkeley County near Martinsburg.
There are plans to connect the Morgan County end of that Mountaineer Gas line to a natural gas transmission supply from Pennsylvania.
Plans for construction of that connector line from Fulton County, Pa. to Morgan County include a section that would bore under the Potomac River near Hancock, Md. Those plans have state and federal regulatory approval, but are blocked by a right-of-way issue with the State of Maryland under the Western Maryland Rail Trail.
Petition lays out business details
In a 273-page Joint Petition for the state’s consent and approval for the sale of Mountaineer Gas to UGI, attorneys describe the transaction between the two companies as one in which UGI will “acquire indirectly all of the issued and outstanding common stock of Mountaineer” and for UGI to take over an existing agreement between Mountaineer and IGS utilities, Inc.
UGI Corporation is a natural gas and energy distribution company with its headquarters in King of Prussia, Pa. The company, which owns AmeriGas – a propane marketing company – also owns several gas companies in Europe. The corporation describes itself as a “holding company that distributes and markets energy products and services through our subsidiaries.”
According to their corporate website, UGI Utilities has more than 642,000 customers in 45 Pennsylvania counties and one county in Maryland. Their map shows gas operations in Bedford, Fulton and Franklin counties in this area.
According to IGS Energy, that company supplies electricity and natural gas to Pennsylvania residents from both Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania and UGI. They also serve customers in Baltimore, Maryland. Documents related to the proposed sale specify that Mountaineer Gas already has a business relationship with UGI.
“Mountaineer also receives an LNG-based gas supply from UGI Energy Services, LLC, UGI’s gas midstream and marketing business, through LNG facilities directly connected into Mountaineer’s facilities to serve customers located in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.”
In the petition to seek approval for UGI to acquire Mountaineer Gas, attorneys state that UGI has “the requisite financial capability to acquire ownership of Mountaineer and provide equity capital infusions as needed” and that the Pa. company will “preserve and augment Mountaineer’s existing managerial and technical capabilities, such that Mountaineer will continue to operate its utility assets and provide safe, reliable and high-quality service to its customers.”
The petition to the Public Service Commission says the sale of Mountaineer Gas would involve a transfer of the company’s stock to UGI and creation of a new corporate ownership, but Mountaineer employees and “local leadership of Mountaineer” would “not be adversely affected.”
Public comments sought
The Public Service Commission will hold a public comment hearing regarding the proposed acquisition of Mountaineer Gas Company by UGI Corporation in person at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 20 in the Commission’s main hearing room at 201 Brooks Street in Charleston. The public can attend.
Individuals who don’t attend the hearing in person can send a letter to the Commission at 201 Brooks Street, Charleston, WV 25301 or they can submit a comment on the Commission’s website.
“The Commissioners are very interested in what the public thinks about the issues we decide in cases,” said Public Service Commission Chairman Charlotte Lane. “We provide several ways for customers to comment on the cases in front of us and actively encourage customers to be part of the process.”
Intervenors, or interested parties with special standing in this case, include the Consumer Advocate Division; West Virginia Laborers District Counsel; Equitrans; The Proctor & Gamble Manufacturing Company; West Virginia Energy Users Group; CNG Services, LLC and Interstate Gas Supply; and, Direct Energy Business Marketing, LLC.
More information, including documents filed in this case and the full procedural schedule, may be found on the Commission website: www.psc.state.wv.us by referencing Case No. 21-0043-G-PC.