Whether natural gas pipeline firm Laser Northeast Gathering will be regulated as a utility is now in the hands of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). This comes after an administrative law judge recommended that the attempt by the company to be regulated as a utility be rejected. Laser Northeast requested that status before it builds a gas gathering and transportation pipeline in Susquehanna County. If their application is accepted Laser Northeast could try to use the power of eminent domain to obtain gas under private properties and seize private property to build the pipeline.
Jennifer Kocher, spokesperson for the PUC, says that the PUC looks at each case separately and there would be no direct way of applying the future Laser Northeast decision to other drilling and pipeline companies companies around the Marcellus Shale that want to be regulated as public utilities. "Every case is based upon its own merits. There is some precedent that could be set in different cases where they could cite different things that were said throughout the cases, but every case stands upon its own merits."
Kocher says that the judge's recommendation is only a single part of the process of analyzing Laser Northeast's application and that a definite decision will not be made until 2011.