Bill would encourage expansion of natural gas distribution system

Written by Craig Layne and Radio Pennsylvania | Apr 6, 2013 7:28 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Pennsylvania is sitting on top of one of the largest natural gas deposits in the world, but roughly half of its residents do not have access to natural gas service, but a state lawmaker wants to change that.

Senator Gene Yaw's proposal is designed to encourage the expansion of it's availability in the commonwealth, since natural gas costs about a quarter of a typical heating oil bill.

The Republican representing part of Union County and much of the Marcellus Shale territory in northern Pennsylvania says his measure will save money in the long run.

"Considering the prices, the payback period is three to five years," Yaw says. "So, there's going to be a considerable savings involved even if there is some requirement that the consumers pay part of the bill."

The Natural Gas Consumer Access Act would require natural gas utilities to develop extension and expansion plans, and submit them to the state Public Utilities Commission.

A second bill would allow for grants to help schools, hospitals and small businesses to connect to natural gas lines -- if they are extended in the area.

StateImpact Pennsylvania has a closer look at pipelines in Pennsylvania.

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