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Opponents raised concerns that the maximum $2 surcharge would be applied evenly to residential and commercial ratepayers regardless of consumption or current gas bills.

They argued the bill would have essentially written a pre-project blank check to gas companies seeking to avoid the accountability associated with proving after the fact that their completed work justifies a future rate increase.

Several lawmakers argued the bill was being pushed by gas companies after the PSC rejected the Washington Gas Light Co.’s request last year for a $30 million rate hike to fund improvements.

“You want to build a project? Go out, get it financed, run it through the Public Service Commission and get your return,” said Senate Minority Leader E.J. Pipkin, Cecil Republican. “At the end of the day, I see this as a bailout bill: moving cash flow forward for a company to build infrastructure.”