Public Utility Commission Commissioner John F. Coleman Jr. Monday was named as co-chair of a new Natural Gas Access and Expansion Task Force, established by the President and Executive Board of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners.
The task force will be charged with developing best practices and recommendations regarding natural gas service for underserved and unserved areas of the country, including, but not limited to rural communities.
Commissioner Coleman is joined by fellow co-chair, Mississippi Commissioner Brandon Presley, along with North Dakota Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, who will serve as vice-chair of the task force.
“It is an honor to work with my fellow commissioners from across the country, who share a similar concern about infrastructure issues that limit access to low-cost natural gas for residential, industrial and commercial customers – especially in rural areas,” noted Commissioner Coleman. “These issues generate frustration and added expense for our consumers, and compromise the competitiveness of our communities, and we are anxious to explore ways to remedy this situation.”
PUC Commissioner Robert F. Powelson, who also serves as current NARUC President, said, “the task force will help NARUC members better understand the demand for natural gas service in unserved and underserved areas, the barriers and obstacles to such access and expansion and provide relevant economic information on the costs and benefits of expanding natural gas distribution infrastructure.”
PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown praised the appointment: “Commissioner Coleman has a strong interest and deep knowledge of natural gas infrastructure, and has been an integral part of efforts to address these issues in Pennsylvania. He will be a valuable voice in this national conversation.”
During the eight-month term of the task force, the group’s main focus will be to prepare an analytical report that will:
-- Study current access, expansion and service extension policies for underserved and unserved areas;
-- Examine the need for access and expansion including case studies, and a review of the barriers and obstacles to such access;
-- Recommend potential mechanisms to address the benefits and opportunities for access and expansion and identify alternative or unconventional approaches to reaching unserved and underserved areas; and
-- Compile a national “best practices” collection on natural gas access and expansion to underserved and unserved areas.
The task force will also coordinate with NARUC’s Committee on Gas to help identify opportunities for engagement at NARUC meetings on this issue and collaborate with NARUC-affiliated organizations to collect best practices.Members of the task force will include the following state commissioners: Ken Anderson (Texas), Stephen Bloom (Oregon), Julie Brown (Florida), Robert Hayden (Massachusetts), Kim O’Guinn (Arizona), Norman Saari (Michigan), Dianne Solomon (New Jersey), Nick Wagner (Iowa) and Dallas Winslow (Delaware). This leaves three (3) positions vacant to be filled at the discretion of the NARUC President. The Committee on Gas Chair Stan Wise (Georgia) and co-Vice Chair Diane X. Burman (New York) will serve as active liaisons to the task force.