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Pennsylvania Offering $24M For More NatGas Use

Pennsylvania is accepting applications for $24 million worth of grants that would help connect more of the state's businesses, schools and municipalities with natural gas.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority began accepting applications last week for the Pipeline Investment Program (Pipe). Businesses, economic development organizations, hospitals, municipalities and school districts are eligible to apply for the grants. The grants would cover the costs associated with tapping into the state's growing natural gas distribution network to cover expenses including construction, land acquisition, easements, clearing, engineering, design and inspection costs.

"Pennsylvania boasts tremendous natural gas resources, and it makes sense that our residents should benefit from the assets right under their feet," said Gov. Tom Wolf, who has pushed to keep more of the state's shale gas within its borders since taking office last year.

The program is being financed by shifting two years of fiscal funding from Pennsylvania's Alternative Energy Investment Act. That provides grants for clean energy projects, but the Wolf administration said it's been underutilized. Wolf originally wanted to fund the Pipe program with a severance tax on natural gas production, but after his attempts to enact one failed the state decided to shift funds from the alternative investments.

The Marcellus, Utica and Upper Devonian shales have helped make Pennsylvania the nation's second largest natural gas producer. Unconventional volumes reached 4.6 Tcf last year (see Shale DailyFeb. 22). The state has continued its push to keep more of that production in state, incentivizing end-use with grants, programs to pair more gas consumers with long dormant brownfield sites, studying how to leverage current industry projects and at times discussing tax incentives for more gas use (see Shale DailySept. 28March 23).

The Pipe program will offer grants of up to $1 million for each project. Applicants would have to provide matching funds equal to at least 50% of the total project cost. The first grant approvals are expected to be made early next year. More information about the program is available at dced.pa.gov.

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