PA Governor Makes Gas Restructuring a Reality
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge signed House Bill 1331 Tuesday,
deregulating many aspects of the state gas industry and paving the
way for statewide customer choice to begin Nov. 1.
Ridge touted the signing as a move that puts Pennsylvania at the
front of the energy competition race. "Through this new law,
Pennsylvania continues to be the national leader when it comes to
energy competition," he said. "We have the No. 1 electric
competition program in the country, and now we'll be the first
state to let our homeowners shop for both electric power and
Of the nearly five million housing units in Pennsylvania-
including houses, condominiums and apartments-over two million use
natural gas as a heating source, according to the Pennsylvania
Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The signing of this bill will
automatically mean a lower gas bill for these customers, thanks to
the elimination of the 5% Gross Receipts Tax (GRT), which was
included in the legislation. He said the elimination of this tax
will save each family using gas to heat their homes $55/year for a
total of $82 million.
Other stipulations in the bill include an LDC rate freeze until
Jan. 1, 2001 and mandatory capacity assignment until July 2002. LDC
affiliates are allowed to market in their parent company's service
area, but the bill requires the PUC to create and enforce a strict
LDC affiliate code of conduct. The bill allows, but does not
mandate, LDCs to exit the merchant function.
The bill was forged from the results of a statewide
collaborative made up of all interested marketers, labor parties,
LDCs and regulators. Rep. Frank Tulli (R-Dauphin) and Sen. Jeff
Piccola (R-Dauphin) submitted companion bills to their respective
state houses. The Senate approved their version, SB 601, in May.
After a series of changes and delays (including a title change from
SB 601 to HB 1331), the bill finally won approval from both houses
last week (See Daily GPI, June 18)
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