A pair of state legislators introduced a measure on Jan. 17 to ban any moratoriums on new natural gas hookups.

The bill, introduced by state Assembly members Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, and Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, came in response to the state Public Utilities Commission’s proposal last month to implement a three-month moratorium on new business and industrial gas connections by Southern California Gas Co.

The PUC proposed the moratorium after receiving reports that reduced capacity at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage field could lead to shortages during the peak winter months for gas usage.

But the Los Angeles County Business Federation, the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and the Gas. Co. opposed the moratorium, saying it would needlessly delay gas connections for at least 700 businesses that had either received permission or were waiting in line to connect.

On Jan. 10, PUC President Michael Picker pulled the moratorium from consideration at the commission’s meeting the next day, postponing any vote on it until at least Feb. 8. (For more, please see Commission Postpones Vote on Moratorium on New Natural Gas Connections.)

In introducing their bill, Santiago and Rubio said implementing a moratorium would have major adverse economic impacts.

“There are small businesses that won’t be able to proceed with development and homes that will now have construction halted – in the middle of an established housing crisis in our state,” Santiago said in a statement. “AB 1879 sends a clear message to the CPUC and others that we need to pause for a moment on this issue, and be deliberate and thoughtful about how we proceed with California’s energy resources and infrastructure.”

Economy, education, energy and transportation reporter Howard Fine can be reached at hfine@labusinessjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardafine.

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