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Legislation Aimed at Natural Gas Distribution, Expansion

During a press conference held on Tuesday in Williamsport, Pa., Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) and State Senator Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming) announced two bills aimed at fostering the extension and expansion of natural gas distribution systems to unserved and underserved residential, commercial, and industrial sites.

“Pennsylvania is fortunate to have access to the abundant resources of the Marcellus Shale formation,” said Senator Pileggi. “We should encourage and make smart investments so that the affordable energy provided by natural gas is available to as many Pennsylvanians as possible. These bills will foster economic growth across the state.”

Senate Bill 738, the Natural Gas Consumer Access Act, will require every natural gas distribution utility operating in Pennsylvania to submit a three-year plan to the Public Utility Commission (PUC), outlining the utility’s plans for extension and expansion projects. The first such plan would be due by January 1, 2014, with additional plans required every two years thereafter. The PUC will have the option to reject, revise or order the utility to submit a revised plan for adequacy and completeness and do periodic reviews.

Senate Bill 738 will also create a system providing for expedited extension or expansion projects if an economic development agency or a large number of residential, commercial or industrial entities want to seek to obtain natural gas service.

Senate Bill 739 will amend the Alternative Energy Investment Act to provide for $15 million for grants to schools, hospitals and small businesses to obtain access to natural gas service. The funding will come from existing, under-utilized programs. Grants made under Senate Bill 739 may provide up to half of the cost of a project.