A proposed rulemaking to examine Pennsylvania’s regulations regarding licensing requirements for natural gas suppliers (NGS) will be issued for comment by mid January, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) said Friday.

The PUC has traditionally issued licenses to marketing service consultants and nontraditional marketers that have applied for them if they meet financial and technical requirements, despite the fact that such entities are exempt from regulations requiring NGS to obtain a license in order to offer service in the state.

“Due to the non-compulsory nature of licensing such entities and the amount of direct interaction these entities have with retail customers, combined with the fact that the licensed marketing services consultants and/or nontraditional marketers may gain a competitive edge or perceived higher level of credibility over other unlicensed entities providing the same types of services, I believe that now is the time to conduct a review of the commission’s regulations outlining the licensing requirements for natural gas suppliers,” said Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer in a motion unanimously approved by the PUC Friday.

The goal of the review “should be to discontinue the NGS licensing exemption of marketing services consultants and nontraditional marketers and instead require all natural gas aggregators, marketers and brokers to be licensed by the commission in order to offer natural gas supply services to retail customers,” Witmer said.

Since 1999 Pennsylvania’s Natural Gas Choice and Competition Act has allowed the state’s retail gas customers to choose their NGS, which the act defines as “an entity other than a natural gas distribution company, but including natural gas distribution company marketing affiliates, which provides natural gas supply services to retail gas customers utilizing the jurisdictional facilities of a natural gas distribution company.”

In an effort to foster a competitive retail marketplace for natural gas service, the PUC in 2009 issued a proposed rulemaking designed to make it easier for consumers to compare prices offered by NGS and natural gas distribution companies (see Daily GPI, March 27, 2009).

The proposed rulemaking is scheduled to be issued within 90 days, the PUC said.

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