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Proposals to Store Natural Gas Criticized

AUGUSTA, Maine - A plan to invest up to $75 million a year into storing and distributing natural gas in liquid form is receiving criticism.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission's staff is urging regulators to rule that none of the storage proposals it's received serve the public interest.

Maine legislators last year passed a law saying regulators could execute a contract that's commercially reasonable, among other things.

The idea is to reserve space in yet-to-be-built liquefied natural gas tanks and then convert the liquid back to gas in winter when prices spike.

A December report found Maine taxpayers are unlikely to benefit from the proposed projects.

Maine's chief consumer advocate says the contracts would be an "extremely risky investment" in exchange for "uncertain benefits."

Four companies argue their project would reduce energy costs.