PA Gas Deregulation Bill to Meet Opposition
The Pennsylvania Gas Deregulation bill, which was introduced to
the state legislature last week, will meet steadfast opposition
during the upcoming Senate Consumer Protection committee hearing on
March 23. The hearing will be the first time the bill goes up for
The bill was introduced to the Senate by Sen. Jeff Piccola
(R-15) and to the House by Rep. Frank Tulli (R-106) despite the
disapproving opinions of a high-powered groups. A source close to
the situation said Enron, along with Shell, Connectiv Energy, DTE
Edison America, Green Mountain Energy Resources, and the Natural
Gas Supply Association combined to submit a letter in late February
to PUC Commissioners John Quain and Aaron Wilson voicing their
displeasure. They opposed the collaborative's decisions to allow
mandatory capacity assignment until 2002, to permit LDC affiliates
to market to Pennsylvania customers, and to allow the metering,
billing and collection services to stay bundled.
In the proposed legislation, the source said these issues were
not addressed to the liking of the opposing parties. A
representative from Connectiv will testify against the legislation
at the March 23 hearing.
"While the current proposal contains some positive aspects," the
authors of the letter wrote, "our review leads us to the emphatic
conclusion that, if enacted, this proposal will not produce
benefits -- robust competition, lower prices, better service and
more innovative products -- all of us are striving to deliver to
the Commonwealth's natural gas customers and, particularly,
residential and small businesses."
The only other company to speak out against the bill is National
Fuel Gas, a gas utility serving 195,444 customers in Pennsylvania.
It is scheduled to testify at the Consumer Protection hearing as
well. "We don't want to make any specific statements yet," said NFG
spokesperson Julie Coppola. "We're still working to make the bill
better but, as of now, we don't support it."
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