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Pennsylvania energy regulatory update

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Pennsylvania state lawmakers returned to the Pennsylvania Capitol June 3 with the state budget as the top order of business. There are two energy-related bills moving through the legislature that aim to enhance natural gas service in the Commonwealth that Direct Energy is monitoring.  They are HB 1188 (sponsored by Representative Payne) and SB 738 (sponsored by Senator Yaw).

HB 1188 addresses eliminating the current interest rate structure utilities are allowed to use when reconciling purchase gas costs and; eliminating the migration rider charged to customers who switch to a competitive supplier. By addressing these two concerns, it creates a more equal “apples to apples” price comparison for customers between utility and supplier offers.

SB 738 assists in the extension and expansion of natural gas distribution systems to residential, commercial and industrial sites that are either underserved in this resource or not served at all. Specifically, it provides that each natural gas distribution utility submit a plan to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PPUC) within two years after a franchise territory is awarded that should include data on the service area. The commission will then review the plan and implement periodic reviews of the distribution system. Natural gas distribution utilities will also provide residential, commercial and industrial customers with customer contribution criteria for extension and expansion, as well as notifications of its distribution system extension and expansion plan and customer contribution criteria once a year.

“If both these bills were passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly, more potential customers would have access to natural gas service in their communities, giving them more choices and competitive rates,” said Ron Cerniglia, Director of Government & Regulatory Affairs for Direct Energy. He adds, having fairer price comparisons between utility and supplier offers would empower customers to make a more educated decision when deciding to shop for their natural gas supply.

Posted: July 06, 2013