Recent Regulatory Approvals Support Important Safety and Reliability Upgrades While Minimizing Impact on Customer Bills
ATLANTA - August 26, 2013 - On August 21, 2013, AGL Resources Inc. (NYSE: GAS) received unanimous approval from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to implement its Accelerated Infrastructure Replacement (AIR) program. The BPU approved a stipulated agreement previously reached between AGL Resources' Elizabethtown Gas utility and the BPU Staff that will enable the company to invest up to $115 million over a four-year period to enhance the safety, reliability and integrity of the Elizabethtown Gas distribution system. The program is consistent with the New Jersey Energy Master Plan, which supports investments in natural gas infrastructure as a means of reducing energy costs and enhancing energy security.
Under the terms of the agreement, Elizabethtown Gas will file a rate case no later than September 1, 2016, at which time the AIR program costs will be subject to review. During the term of the AIR program, Elizabethtown Gas will accrue AFUDC (Allowance for Funds Used During Construction) related to project expenditures during the construction period, and accrue associated carrying costs from the time the project is placed in service until the time its costs are recovered through base rates.
The New Jersey infrastructure program approval comes just two weeks following the approval of another significant AGL Resources' infrastructure enhancement program, the integrated vintage plastic replacement program (i-VPR) under Atlanta Gas Light Company in Georgia.
Atlanta Gas Light's vintage plastic pipe replacement program, which was approved unanimously by the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) on August 6, 2013, is a program to replace more than 750 miles of vintage plastic pipe within the utility's natural gas distribution system. The program authorizes a phased-in approach to funding the four-year, $275 million system investment through the company's existing STRIDE (Strategic Infrastructure Development and Enhancement) program.
Atlanta Gas Light has more than 3,300 miles of vintage plastic pipe within its approximate 33,000-mile gas distribution system. Referred to in the industry as vintage plastic, this classification of pipe was manufactured with certain resins susceptible to premature degradation depending on service conditions. At the time of installation, the industry projected a useful life of between 60 and 70 years. Like most gas utilities across the country, Atlanta Gas Light installed vintage plastic pipe between 1965 and 1984. These plastic pipes are used for medium and low-pressure applications while protected steel pipe is reserved for high-pressure use.
The construction program initially will be funded through a surcharge on customer bills of $0.48 through December 2014. Additional surcharges of $0.48 and $0.49 will be applied in January 2015 and January 2016, respectively, and will continue through 2025.
Later this year, Atlanta Gas Light will complete its 15-year pipeline replacement program, which has resulted in the company replacing more than 2,700 miles of aging bare steel and cast iron pipe. Also, this fall the PSC is expected to consider the second phase of two existing infrastructure programs that are part of STRIDE. The 10-year system reinforcement program and the related customer growth program approved in 2009 focus on pressure improvements to better serve peak day demand, and on economic development expansions to high-growth areas served by the Atlanta Gas Light system. The second phase of these programs proposes to invest up to $260 million over a four-year period.
"Our recently approved infrastructure investment programs in Georgia and New Jersey are vital to maintaining and enhancing the overall reliability, safety and integrity of our distribution systems in those service areas," said John W. Somerhalder, chairman, president and chief executive officer of AGL Resources. "We also have a similar program at Virginia Natural Gas, which was approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission in 2012. With new legislation recently passed in Illinois, we anticipate making a significant investment in infrastructure enhancement at our largest utility, Nicor Gas, in the near future."
The new legislation in Illinois, signed into law by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in July, will enable modernization of natural gas infrastructure in the state and provide a surcharge mechanism for utilities to recover the cost of their investments in system reliability.
Under the legislation, Nicor Gas could invest up to $150 million annually, over a nine-year period beginning in 2015, to upgrade certain portions of its distribution system. The program governing these investments is subject to review and approval by the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). The company expects to make a proposal to the ICC in 2014.
"We are fortunate to operate in states where our regulators and legislators recognize the importance of these critical infrastructure programs and support their implementation in a way that minimizes the overall impact on customer bills and enables the company to recover its costs in a timely manner," said Hank Linginfelter, executive vice president of utility operations for AGL Resources. "We have demonstrated a strong track record of prudent capital investment in our distribution systems to ensure their reliability and safety. These recent positive developments support our ability to continue making those investments to better serve our customers for many years to come."
About AGL Resources
AGL Resources (NYSE: GAS) is an Atlanta-based energy services holding company with operations in natural gas distribution, retail operations, wholesale services, midstream operations and cargo shipping. AGL Resources serves approximately 4.5 million utility customers through its regulated distribution subsidiaries in seven states. The company also serves approximately 630,000 retail energy customers and approximately 1.2 million customer service contracts through its SouthStar Energy Services joint venture and Pivotal Home Solutions, which market natural gas and related home services. Other non-utility businesses include asset management for natural gas wholesale customers through Sequent Energy Management, ownership and operation of natural gas storage facilities, and ownership of Tropical Shipping, one of the largest containerized cargo carriers serving the Bahamas and Caribbean region. AGL Resources is a member of the S&P 500 Index. For more information, visit www.aglresources.com.
About Elizabethtown Gas
Elizabethtown Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL Resources (NYSE: GAS), provides natural gas delivery service to approximately 276,000 residential, business and industrial natural gas customers in New Jersey. In operation since 1855, the company serves parts of Union, Middlesex, Sussex, Warren, Hunterdon, Morris and Mercer counties. For more information, visit www.elizabethtowngas.com
About Atlanta Gas Light
Atlanta Gas Light, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL Resources (NYSE: GAS), provides natural gas delivery service to more than 1.5 million customers in Georgia. In operation since 1856, the company is one of the oldest corporations in the state. For more information, visit www.atlantagaslight.com.
About Nicor Gas
Nicor Gas, a wholly owned subsidiary of AGL Resources (NYSE: GAS), is a natural gas distribution company that serves more than 2 million customers in a service territory that encompasses most of the northern third of Illinois, excluding the city of Chicago. For more information, visit www.nicorgas.com.
Forward-Looking StatementsCertain expectations and projections regarding our future performance referenced in this press release are forward-looking statements within the meaning of the United States federal securities laws and are subject to uncertainties and risks. Forward-looking statements involve matters that are not historical facts and because these statements involve anticipated events or conditions, forward-looking statements often include words such as "anticipate," "assume," "believe," "can," "could," "estimate," "expect," "forecast," "future," "goal," "indicate," "intend," "may," "outlook," "plan," "potential," "predict," "project," "proposed," seek," "should," "target," "will," "would," or similar expressions. Our expectations are not guarantees and are based on currently available competitive, financial and economic data along with our operating plans. While we believe our expectations are reasonable in view of the currently available information, our expectations are subject to future events, risks and uncertainties, and there are several factors -- many beyond our control -- that could cause results to differ significantly from our expectations. Forward-looking statements contained in this press release include, without limitation, the anticipated impact of new legislation in Illinois and the amount and timing of infrastructure enhancements by Nicor Gas.
Such events, risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, changes in price, supply and demand for natural gas and related products; the impact of changes in state and federal legislation and regulation including any changes related to climate change; actions taken by government agencies on rates and other matters; concentration of credit risk; utility and energy industry consolidation; the impact on cost and timeliness of construction projects by government and other approvals, development project delays, adequacy of supply of diversified vendors, unexpected change in project costs, including the cost of funds to finance these projects; limits on pipeline capacity; the impact of acquisitions and divestitures; our ability to successfully integrate operations that we have or may acquire or develop in the future; direct or indirect effects on our business, financial condition or liquidity resulting from any change in our credit ratings, or any change in the credit ratings of our counterparties or competitors; interest rate fluctuations; financial market conditions, including disruptions in the capital markets and lending environment; general economic conditions; uncertainties about environmental issues and the related impact of such issues, including our environmental remediation plans; the impact of our depreciation study for Nicor Gas and related legislation; the impact of changes in weather, including climate change, on the temperature-sensitive portions of our business; the impact of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, on the supply and price of natural gas and on our cargo shipping business; acts of war or terrorism; the outcome of litigation; and other factors discussed elsewhere herein and in our other filings with the SEC. There also may be other factors that we do not anticipate or that we do not recognize as material that are not described in this report that could cause our actual results to differ from our expectations.
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Director, Investor Relations
Director, External Relations