Pennsylvania Unbundling Bill Passes Senate
Pennsylvania's state Senate convincingly voiced its support for
SB601, a gas deregulation bill for residential and small commercial
customers, with a 47-3 vote of approval late Monday night. The bill
is now in the hands of Pennsylvania's House of Representatives
Consumer Affairs committee. If the bill is signed into law, each of
the Pennsylvania natural gas utilities would be required to submit
a restructuring plan to the PUC by Nov. 1.
John Quain, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission chairman,
said at a Pennsylvania Gas Association meeting the window to get
the bill through the entire legislature will close when this
legislative session ends June 15. "We must get it done. We need to
capture the moment," he said. "We are on the brink of something
exciting, very positive, and necessary. The natural gas industry is
ready for change."
Quain added that, if passed, the bill will allow the state's gas
industry to enjoy the same success as other deregulated industries.
"It's time for [the gas] industry to catch up and move forward from
monopoly regulation to competition. It makes no sense to me to have
one fuel regulated in Pennsylvania when all others now are
PECO Energy, a gas utility serving 415,000 natural gas customers
in Philadelphia suburban counties, already has begun work preparing
the company's restructuring plan, which will detail how the utility
would interact with gas marketers and unbundle its services and
Formed by a collaborative of LDCs, marketers and regulators, SB601
has instigated debate due to its compromising nature. It freezes LDC
rates from the time it is passed until Jan. 1, 2001, which displeases
LDCs, but it also requires mandatory capacity assignment until July
2002, which does not sit well with marketers. Overall, however, most
key players in the state feel this bill can be successful (See Daily GPI, March 18).
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