TOPEKA, Kan. — The Kansas Corporation Commission has rejected a request from three gas companies, sticking to its original ruling that they need to speed up the replacement of obsolete pipeline deemed a safety risk.

The commission ruled in September that Atmos Energy, Black Hills Energy and Kansas Gas Service needed to create a 10-year plan to replace unprotected and bare steel pipes. The companies also have to recoup funds at up to 40 cents per month per customer, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported .

The ruling ended a years-long look at whether Kansas gas companies needed to tackle the obsolete pipeline in their systems at a faster rate and whether they needed additional funding mechanisms to finish the work.

The companies filed a petition for reconsideration on Oct. 26, outlining issues with both the 10-year time period and the 40-cent cap of the rate mechanism.

“Black Hills requested reconsideration of any findings suggesting Black Hills’ natural gas distribution system is not safe or that the gas utility has not shown a commitment to the operational safety of its system,” the filing said.

But the commission rejected the request last week. The agency said the companies needed to return with a tentative accelerated replacement plan within three months and a final plan in six months.

“Had Atmos and Black Hills attempted to demonstrate to this commission that they had undertaken serious efforts to significantly accelerate the pace of replacement prior to seeking an alternative rate mechanism to reduce regulatory lag to the benefit of the shareholders, the commission might be more sympathetic today,” the appeal rejection said.

The petition for reconsideration was the final step the companies had to appeal to the commission. Any more action would require filing with the Kansas Court of Appeals.


Information from: The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, http://www.cjonline.com