AARP sues over gas pipeline surcharge

AARP has sued the Georgia Public Service Commission in connection with its approval of a customer surcharge that will pay for a pipeline expansion and improvement program for Atlanta Gas Light.

AARP, which claims 1.1 million members in Georgia, is asking the Fulton County Superior Court to delay imposition of the surcharge and to allow it to get answers to questions it has about the program from AGL.

The PSC earlier this month approved the $175 million first phase of AGL's proposed $400 million program that will expand pipeline capacity.

Said AARP associate state director Will Phillips: "Atlanta Gas Light gave only vague cost estimates for a series of projects, and we're expected to take their word that all the projects are essential and that they haven't made any errors in their estimates. Utility customers are entitled to know that any increases are reasonable and necessary, and the PSC's process has failed to determine that or to provide a way for consumers to determine that."

AGL's proposal was passed by a 4-1 PSC vote, with Commissioner Robert Baker opposing.  It calls for both residential and business customers to pay an additional 39 cents per month in the first year of the program, an extra 78 cents per month in the second year, and $1.18 more each month in the third year and from then on until 2022.

PSC chairman Doug Everett could not be reached for comment.

AGL spokesman Alan Chapple said the company was reviewing the suit, adding its practice is to not comment on such cases.