HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut utility regulators gave final approval Friday to a plan to expand natural gas service to about 280,000 new customers throughout the state over the next decade.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority had given preliminary approval earlier this month to the proposal by the state’s three investor-owned gas companies — Connecticut Natural Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas and Yankee Gas.

The typical homeowner would face no up-front connection costs and would pay an extra 10 percent premium on his or her monthly bills for 10 years, while an average-size business would pay an extra 50 percent premium on its monthly bills over a decade.

Small, family-owned heating oil businesses have opposed the plan, saying it would hurt their companies.

The plan focuses on potential customers who are within 150 feet of existing gas mains but not connected or potential customers who are off-main but can cost-effectively convert.

PURA directed gas companies to identify cost-saving opportunities to make the process more efficient and to develop a conversion cost calculator for customers, which it will review and approve.

PURA said there also are financial triggers to reconsider the plan if customers don’t convert in expected numbers or natural gas prices spike. Existing customers could face an added charge on their bills if new customers and other revenue don’t cover the expansion cost.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has supported the plan, said approval “is another major step forward” in efforts to help reduce energy bills with a cheaper, cleaner source.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



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