A new state program expanding access to natural gas infrastructure for schools, hospitals, businesses and other entities was approved as part of the Fiscal Code, according Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Lycoming), Majority Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee.
With Gov. Wolf choosing not to sign the state's Fiscal Code, thus allowing it to become law, the legislation establishes the "Natural Gas Infrastructure Development Fund" and transfers $12 million from the High Performance Green Building Program to provide grants to fund projects which expand access to natural gas infrastructure.
Grants to eligible entities would be issued through the Commonwealth Financing Authority.
"This legislation will provide Pennsylvania hospitals, businesses, economic development organizations, municipalities, counties, and school districts with a funding opportunity to expand natural gas infrastructure, providing an alternative to their current heating source, and potentially lower overall costs," Sen. Yaw said. "Improving the accessibility and availability of natural gas service throughout our region would also give more residents the opportunity to benefit from this low-cost, more environmentally-friendly fuel."
According to the new law, the CFA may provide a grant of up to 50 percent of the overall cost of the project or $1 million maximum. Guidelines will be developed for submitting applications, and projects that result in expanded gas service to adjoining residential and nonresidential properties will be given priority.
Over the past two legislative sessions, Sen. Yaw has championed legislation seeking to expand gas service to unserved and underserved areas of his Senatorial District. Senate Bill 739 (2013-14) and Senate Bill 215 (2015-16), known as the Pennsylvania Natural Gas Expansion and Development Initiative, sought to also facilitate the expansion, distribution and use of Pennsylvania-produced natural gas.
"There is widespread interest in seeing locally produced natural gas used locally to benefit our area businesses, schools and others," Sen. Yaw added. "I am pleased that my legislative proposal became part of the Fiscal Code."
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