Consolidated Edison Sued by Natural-Gas Suppliers in N.Y.

Consolidated Edison Inc. was sued by retail natural-gas suppliers seeking to block the utility from passing on costs they claim stem from the company’s bad predictions for gas demand last winter, the coldest in 30 years.

The four suppliers, who operate as alternatives to the utility and rely on Con Ed to transport their fuel, sued today in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. They say Con Ed disregarded historical usage data and advanced weather forecasts in determining, as its required to do, how much fuel they’d need.

The suppliers say in their suit that Con Ed by law has to purchase the difference on the open market if they don’t have enough gas. Con Ed then passes on the bill with penalties, according to the suit.

The suppliers say they ran as much as 30 percent behind what their customers needed in January because of Con Ed’s inaccurate forecasts.

A telephone call to Con Ed media relations seeking comment on the complaint wasn’t immediately returned.

Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland, said December through February was the coldest for that period in the lower-48 states since the winter of 1981-1982, based on energy-weighted heating degree days, a measure of weather-driven demand. Gas demand in January was the highest on record at 104 billion cubic feet a day, 12 percent above year-earlier consumption, according to the Energy Information Administration.

The case is Blue Rock Energy Inc. v. Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc., 651203/2014, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).

(Updates with complaint in second paragraph.)
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