Can Risk-Averse Phila. Gas Works Successfully Expand LNG Plant?

Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) was up for sale, a winsome suitor was found (UIL Holdings from Connecticut) and the deal to sell the nation’s largest publicly-owned gas utility was obliterated by a corrupt City Council. We won’t recount the history (see our stories here). With the $1.86 billion deal now dead, PGW is moving on and trying to act and behave like a private sector company–except it’s not a private sector company. Last week they announced a 12-day “open season” to gauge interest in expanding their liquefied natural gas plant, a plant that would be fed by Marcellus Shale gas (see Phila. Gas Works Launches 12-Day Open Season to Expand LNG). However, LNG is not regulated like the delivery of natural gas, PGW’s main “business.” That is, there’s risk involved–and the people who bear the risk for PGW, being a municipal-owned utility–are the ratepayers, not the investors/owners, which would be the case if PGW were a private sector company. Are Philly residents willing to risk higher rates if PGW bungles the LNG expansion?…

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