For the past few years we have all heard plenty about Marcellus Shale and more recently about Utica Shale. As drilling continues to occur in Pennsylvania, the wells are flowing with significant amounts of natural gas. What’s the next step, and how does the state utilize what is being extracted?
Pennsylvania State Senator Gene Yaw (R-23) and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-9) have announced that they are going to introduce legislation that will facilitate the expansion, distribution and use of natural gas, since both rural and urban areas lack the infrastructure to take advantage of this commodity. They expect that this legislation will allow for a greater use of natural gas throughout the Commonwealth at a reduced cost.
The legislation will:
- Encourage the conversion of government buildings to low-cost, energy-efficient, Pennsylvania-produced natural gas;
- Offer incentives to school districts, institutions of higher education, correctional institutions and hospitals to convert to low-cost, energy-efficient, Pennsylvania-produced natural gas;
- Encourage the use of natural gas to assure that natural gas energy is accessible to Pennsylvanians;
- Establish funding alternatives for gathering and distribution extensions to unserved and underserved areas;
- Require the Public Utility Commission to develop rules to produce an orderly system for reviewing current levels of natural gas service and to allow for the orderly expansion of natural gas service to areas not currently served;
- Allow municipalities to establish their own pipeline infrastructure;
- Ease the regulatory hurdles required for becoming a public utility;
- Include a system of pipeline infrastructure for rural access; and
- Provide rate incentives to state utilities that are aggressively acquiring and building new utility franchises in rural areas.
This proposed legislation appears to be a step in the right direction to take advantage of this great resource. This should allow consumers, individuals and state institutions an opportunity for reduced energy costs.
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