KCC denies requests based on lack of jurisdiction and legal restrictions, but assures consumers state and federal level investigations continue
TOPEKA – The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) issued orders denying two motions filed by the Natural Gas Transportation Customer Coalition (NGTCC) relating to gas prices during February’s winter weather event.
The first motion asked the Commission to subpoena documents from S&P Global Platts Gas Daily relating to its daily price index. While acknowledging the concerns, the Commission order states that jurisdiction to investigate wholesale market manipulation lies with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has already opened an investigation.
“While NGTCC may raise legitimate concerns, this Commission is simply not the forum for such an investigation. This Commission is focused on the behavior of its jurisdictional utilities and whether they acted reasonably and prudently, under the circumstances. However, if suppliers, traders, or other entities engaged in market manipulation or price gouging within the wholesale market, as NGTCC posits, FERC’s investigation is intended to uncover such actions.”
The second request was that invoices from Kansas Gas Service’s suppliers be made public. In denying that motion, the Commission determined that supplier invoices satisfy the definition of “trade secret” as defined by K.S.A. 60-3320 and are protected as propriety information as set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Kansas Supreme Court. The order notes that giving the public access to the invoices would not aid the Commission in its investigation because the KCC’s Staff, NGTCC, and all other parties to the docket, including the Kansas Attorney General’s Office and the Commission itself, already have full access to the documents. The Attorney General’s office is investigating February’s wholesale gas prices as part of its consumer protection probe.
“Therefore, between Staff, CURB, and the AG, the general public is well represented in this proceeding. NGTCC has not demonstrated that disclosure will benefit the public interest. Conversely, the record demonstrates disclosure of the information as requested in NGTCC’s motions holds great potential to harm current and future Kansas natural gas customers through higher purchased gas costs. A general argument in favor of transparency cannot outweigh this very real harm to customers.”
All regulated Kanas utilities are required to work with the KCC to determine how the February gas prices will be passed on to ratepayers. While Federal and State investigations into the matter continue, the Commissioners emphasized their expectation that Kansas natural gas consumers will be compensated in the future if price gouging or market manipulation is uncovered.
A recording of today’s business meeting can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqpQsXpdarE
The orders are available on the KCC website: http://estar.kcc.ks.gov/estar/ViewFile.aspx?Id=d939fd87-7d2a-493a-9a58-cdb7a4fd9675 http://estar.kcc.ks.gov/estar/ViewFile.aspx?Id=49f602f8-af94-4b45-b495-12c61088ac3b