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Lawmakers Laud Enstar Decision to Let Consumer Protection Ruling Stand

Company won’t ask agency to reconsider determination

(JUNEAU) – Two Anchorage lawmakers today applauded Enstar Natural Gas Company’s decision not to seek reconsideration of the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) decision disallowing the utility to charge consumers for a $5.7 million billing mistake.   Representatives Pete Petersen and Chris Tuck (both D-Anchorage) championed ratepayers in voicing public opposition to Enstar’s request to charge consumers

“I want to thank Enstar for deciding to not press consumers with further action,” Rep. Petersen said. “Consumers deserve fair treatment, especially when so many families are struggling with our high cost of living already.  I hope Enstar’s decision means they won’t be taking this to court, and will be promptly refunding ratepayers.”

“I appreciate that Enstar is listening to public concerns about passing the $5.7 million error on to consumers,” Rep. Tuck said.  “This is good news for ratepayers today, but real solutions for Anchorage include increasing Cook Inlet gas production and storage. These will benefit both Enstar and ratepayers now and into the future.”

From 2002 to 2007, Enstar billed the Fort Richardson laundry facility for ten times the amount of gas actually used, and requested the RCA to allow them to charge consumers the cost of repaying $5.7 million to the U.S. Army.  The RCA allowed the charges while the case was pending, but after overwhelming public opposition the RCA denied Enstar’s request and ordered the company to refund customers.  Enstar had until last week to request reconsideration of the decision with the RCA. Enstar has until March 31, 2010 to appeal the case to Alaska Superior Court.

Tuck and Petersen helped inform their constituents about this case and mobilized people to share their opinions with the RCA.  Along with Rep. Les Gara (D-Anchorage), Petersen and Tuck are also sponsoring House Bill 279 which would prevent similar cases in the future by clarifying that for-profit utilities cannot bill customers for their own negligence, recklessness, or intentional violation of the law.  Senators Bill Wielechowski and Hollis French (both D-Anchorage) have introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

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