Governor Gary Herbert and Senator Stuart Adams (R-Layton) are behind a plan that gives Questar a virtual monopoly of natural gas fueling stations for motor vehicles and allows it to pass the cost on to citizens who use natural gas to heat their homes.
SB275 (Energy Amendments) authorizes Questar to construct, operate and maintain fueling stations. The bill also requires the Public Service Commission to allow Questar to pass all costs in excess of revenues generated by the fueling stations onto its rate payers which includes homeowners who heat with natural gas.
SB275 has the effect of turning Questar into an enterprise fund of the state and allows the legislature and governor to fund public projects through utility bills while telling citizens that they didn’t raise taxes.
This bill was first brought out on March 4, run through a Senate committee and then passed by the entire Senate on March 11 under suspension of the rules which dispensed of the requirement to debate and vote on the bill twice.
SB275 never received a House committee hearing although it is a major public policy change with far reaching ramifications. It is currently awaiting a vote by the full House before the end of the legislative session at midnight on Thursday, March 14.
In an Issues Brief, Questar praised, the bill and said that it would increase its investment in refueling stations to $5 million per year which is coincidentally the maximum reimbursable amount set by the bill.
According to Questar, the.typical customer’s bill will increase by 10 to 12 cents per month [for many years.]
In addition, according to Questar, the number of CNG vehicles in Utah will not change the amount of Natural gas produced for Questar Gas by its affiliate, Wexpro. The current Utah NGV rate is $1.49, but will change with supply costs and other regulatory procedings.