Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Report On Expanding Access To Natural Gas Service Released By National Task Force

A national Task Force on Natural Gas Access and Expansion, co-chaired by Public Utility Commission Commissioner John F. Coleman Jr., Wednesday issued a new report detailing best practices and recommendations regarding natural gas service for underserved and unserved areas of the country.
The task force, created by the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, was guided by PUC Commissioner Coleman and his fellow co-chair, Mississippi Commissioner Brandon Presley, along with North Dakota Commissioner Julie Fedorchak, who served as vice-chair. The group’s review included:
-- Studying current access, expansion and service extension policies;
-- Examining the need for access and expansion;
-- Reviewing barriers and obstacles to such access;
-- Recommending potential mechanisms to address the benefits and opportunities for access and expansion:
-- Identifying alternative or unconventional approaches; and
-- Compiling “best practices” on access and expansion to underserved and unserved areas.
“It was enlightening to see how much work is being done across the country to help residents, small businesses and industries benefit from home-grown and low-cost energy resources,” said Commissioner Coleman. “While there is no single ‘silver bullet’ that can be applied everywhere, there are numerous opportunities to move the process forward – and I am proud to note that many of those ‘best practices’ are already being used in Pennsylvania.”
The task force report includes eight recommended mechanisms and best practices for state public utility/service commissions, including:
-- A robust, open, and transparent process for stakeholder input;
-- No-cost line extension programs for natural gas distribution companies (NGDCs), within certain parameters;
-- Updating NGDC contribution in aid of construction (CIAC) calculations, to reflect current market realities and expectations;
-- Allowing consumers to pay a CIAC over time, rather than an up-front, lump-sum payment;
-- Targeted NGDC natural gas expansion programs;
-- An opening for natural gas expansion programs that target all customers, including large commercial and industrial users, and where appropriate, encouraging the use of anchor customers;
-- Consideration for NGDCs financial assistance to customers to convert appliances and equipment, to help mitigate the “behind the meter” costs of gas conversions; and
-- Innovative financial ratemaking incentives for NGDCs to build out their natural gas distribution networks.
The task force included the following state commissioners: Stephen Michael Bloom, Oregon Public Utility Commission; Julie I. Brown, Florida Public Service Commission; Robert Hayden, Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities; Kimberly A. O’Guinn, Arkansas Public Service Commission; Lon Roberts, Wisconsin Public Service Commission; Norman J. Saari, Michigan Public Service Commission; Dianne Solomon, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities; Nick Wagner, Iowa Utilities Board; and Dallas Winslow, Delaware Public Service Commission.
Click Here for a copy of the report.
For more resources gathered by the Task Force, visit the Task Force on Natural Gas Access and Expansion webpage.

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