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Public Service Fee employees objects to Hope Fuel request to guard Morgantown pipeline undertaking prices and maps from disclosure

MORGANTOWN – Public Service Fee employees are objecting to a Hope Fuel request to guard prices, revenues and maps related to its proposed new Morgantown-area pipeline from public disclosure.

In a Thursday submitting, employees stated the general public has a proper to know the knowledge Hope needs to withhold, and counters every of the explanations Hope provided in its submitting for a protecting order within the undertaking.

Hope Fuel filed with the PSC on Sept. 22 for its OK to construct a brand new 30-mile pipeline from Wadestown in western Monongalia County eastward to the sting or Morgantown after which northwest to website close to Osage. All of the greenback figures within the public copy of the submitting are redacted and known as confidential.

Then, in an Oct. 12 submitting, Hope sought the protecting order to maintain the knowledge confidential and defined why.

First, one of many undertaking software’s displays incorporates sure extremely detailed maps and drawings “that present exact areas of amenities that shouldn’t be disclosed for safety causes.”

Second, one other exhibit incorporates undertaking prices that ought to stay confidential as a result of sure undertaking work stays topic to a bidding procurement course of.

And third, testimony by Craig C. Colombo, Hope’s vp of gasoline provide, ought to be confidential the place he discusses estimated income from sure companies Hope may present the place the pricing for such companies is topic to industrial negotiation with clients.

Replying to Hope’s arguments, employees first stated, “The combination price estimate of the undertaking is a not a commerce secret.”

And whereas Hope is just not instantly looking for to recoup the prices of the pipeline, it plans to in later filings, PSC employees stated. “The full price of the undertaking could not have a direct impression on the payments of Hope’s clients, however that price will rear its head when Hope returns earlier than the fee. … Hope’s clients need to understand how a lot this undertaking goes to price and the way that price could possibly be attributed to them in these future proceedings.”

Different utilites have disclosed their prices in multi-million greenback initiatives, employees stated.

Additionally, employees stated, revealing mixture prices gained’t hurt negotiations. Hope can nonetheless preserve confidentiality on particular line objects the place it’s looking for aggressive pricing.

On the matter of the maps, employees stated they aren’t particular engineering plans and descriptions topic to safety underneath the Freedom of Data Act.

“The general public has a considerable curiosity in viewing these maps as a way to gauge what impression this undertaking can have on non-public property and the way it may have an effect on their property values and property usages,” stff stated. “The general public additionally has a proper to see how the trail of this undertaking will impression any public lands if there may be such an impression in any respect.”

In a separate employees memorandum filed the identical day, employees famous that they signed a protecting settlement with Hope on Sept. 22. Nevertheless, “Authorized employees has reviewed the movement for protecting order and finds that it’s overly broad. Hope ought to disclose the mixture prices and income estimates in addition to the maps for the brand new and replace pipeline amenities. The signed protecting settlement doesn’t stop Employees from difficult the request for the protecting order.”

The one trace on the doable price of the undertaking seems within the authentic submitting, the place Hope cites state code that units a time restrict for the PSC to render a closing resolution for any undertaking with a projected complete price exceeding $50 million.

Hope is looking for a PSC order on the undertaking by June 18, 2024. It says it should start building no later than Nov. 1, 2024, to suit inside slim authorized home windows for sure tree clearing actions, and as a way to have the brand new amenities come into service by Nov. 1, 2025 – the start of that winter’s heating season.

Extra restoration and cleanup would proceed to the second quarter of 2026.

Hope initiatives the undertaking to generate about 600 building jobs, “the vast majority of which might be West Virginia based mostly labor.”

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