1Providing for distribution system extension and expansion plans
2to increase natural gas usage in this Commonwealth.

3The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
4hereby enacts as follows:

5Section 1. Short title.

6This act shall be known and may be cited as the Natural Gas
7Consumer Access Act.

8Section 2. Definitions.

9The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
10have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
11context clearly indicates otherwise:

12"Commission." The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

13"Distribution system." A system owned and operated by a
14natural gas distribution utility.

15"Expansion project." Modification to an existing pipeline,
16main extension or service line to one or more residential,

1commercial or industrial entities not receiving natural gas
2service within an existing certificated service area.

3"Extension project." New construction of a service line,
4main extension or pipeline to provide natural gas service to one
5or more residential, commercial or industrial entities not
6receiving natural gas service and for which a certificate of
7public convenience is required under 66 Pa.C.S. § 1102 (relating
8to enumeration of acts requiring certificate) which is not
9within the current certificate of public convenience territory
10issued by the commission to the natural gas distribution

12"Natural gas distribution utility." As defined in 66 Pa.C.S.
13§ 1403 (relating to definitions).

14Section 3. Distribution system extension and expansion plan.

15(a) Submission.--Within nine months after the effective date 
16of this section, or within two years after a franchise territory
17is awarded, each natural gas distribution utility shall submit a
18plan to the commission. The plan shall be updated triennially
19unless sooner requested by the commission. The plan shall
20include the following:

21(1) The number of existing customers by municipality in
22the certificated service area.

23(2) The number of residential, commercial and industrial
24entities in the service area by municipality which do not
25have gas service available, and the anticipated market

27(3) The adjacent municipalities of a distribution system
28that are not serviced by any natural gas distribution

30(4) The plan shall contain the following information:

1(i) A three-year projection for extension projects, 
<-2if appropriate, demonstrating a reasonable increase in
3the service area of customers per year.

4(ii) A three-year projection for expansion projects, 
5along with accompanying data, that is based upon the 
6length and cost of the required <-extensions expansions and 
7the numbers of customers affected for each potential 
8project demonstrating a reasonable increase in the
9service area of customers per year.

10(iii) Financing that is available to complete the
11programs, including customer contribution programs.

12(iv) Known rights-of-way, easement or geographic
13issues <-or local charges that present an impediment to
14expansion or extension projects.

15(v) A form that will be used to enter into an 
16agreement with a prospective customer in order to obtain 
17access to an expansion <-and <-or extension project.

<-18(vi) The standards the natural gas utility will use
19to determine if a customer is unable to comply with the
20repayment schedule adopted by the natural gas utility.

21(b) Commission review.--The commission shall review the plan
22submitted under subsection (a) for adequacy and completeness and
23may seek additional information as necessary. If the commission
24believes the plan does not meet the requirements of this act,
25the commission shall reject the plan <-or and order the natural
26gas distribution utility to submit a revised plan. Any changes
27to the plan may require additional commission review.

<-28(c) Supplemental.--The commission shall require a
29supplemental filing of information to ensure full compliance
30with this act by a natural gas distribution utility that has

1within the last year filed a commission-approved plan or

<-3(c) (d) Periodic review.--The commission shall promulgate
4regulations for the periodic review of distribution system
5extension and expansion plans submitted under subsection (a),
6including standards to ensure expansion and accessibility to
7residential, commercial and industrial users. The regulations
8may authorize a natural gas distribution utility to revise,
9update or submit a new plan as appropriate.

<-10(d) (e) Confidentiality.--At the request of the natural gas
11distribution utility, the commission shall maintain
12confidentiality of specific information deemed to be

14Section 4. Customer contributions.

15(a) Requirement.--A natural gas distribution utility shall
16provide residential, commercial and industrial customers with
17customer contribution criteria for extension and expansion

19(b) Contents.--The criteria under subsection (a) shall
20contain all of the following:

21(1) The actual cost of the extension or expansion of
22service to the prospective customer and the geographic area
23for that project.

24(2) A cost-benefit test to determine whether a customer
25contribution is required.

26(3) A reasonable period of time based on the customer 
27contribution, which shall not be less than ten years or a 
28lesser period of time by mutual agreement between the 
29prospective customer and the natural gas distribution 
30utility, in which customers will reimburse the natural gas

1distribution utility for the <-customer contribution and 
2commission-authorized costs of extension or expansion of
3service to the prospective customer.

4(4) The total cost to a customer, including initial
5deposit and periodic payment or reduction in periodic

7(5) <-Refund Reasonable refund provisions to the original
8customers as other customers receive service from the
9extension or expansion of service to the original customers. 
<-10The refund period shall begin upon date of service and shall 
11be for a period of not less than five years unless otherwise 
12approved by the commission.

13(6) Support for the economic test used to determine the
14customer contribution for line extensions and comparisons
15with other economic tests, such as a net revenue screen or
16net present value method.

<-17(c) Approval.--Upon commission approval of the criteria the
18natural gas distribution utility shall modify its tariff within
1930 days in a manner consistent with the commission's approval.

20(d) <-(c) Adjustment.--The natural gas distribution utility
21shall adjust a customer contribution to reflect changes in
22expansion or extension of service to customers.

<-23(e) (d) Bill.--The charge assessed under this section shall
24appear as a separate, itemized line on the customer's bill.

25Section 5. Notification.

26The natural gas distribution utility shall provide
27notification to all its customers of its distribution system
28extension and expansion plan and customer contribution criteria
29at least once a year. The initial notification shall be included
30in the monthly bill of the customer. After initial notification,

1notice of the distribution system extension and expansion plan
2and customer contribution criteria shall be posted on the
3natural gas distribution utility's Internet website.

4Section 6. Bona fide request program.

5(a) Provision.--A natural gas distribution utility shall
6provide, as part of the plan, a bona fide request program in
7areas where it does not provide service or for expansion of
8service and the manner in which <-a customer customers will be 
9charged for expansion. The plan shall provide for <-expedited 
<-10priority of extension or expansion projects if there is any of
11the following:

12(1) A large aggregation of residential, commercial or
13industrial entities who ask to obtain or expand service.
14Expedited consideration shall be based on the number of
15potential customers, the density of the area seeking service,
16the potential usage and the cost of extending or expanding

18(2) An economic development corporation, which as part
19of a development project which will create 30 or more jobs,
20requires expanded or extended service.

21(b) Description.--The natural gas distribution utility shall
22provide the commission with a written description of the
23program, a sample request for <-expedited prioritization of
24extension or expansion projects, explanation of how the outreach 
25program could expand its customer class, how geographic issues 
26will be evaluated and the form of any agreement prospective
27customers will be required to execute in connection with
28receiving the gas service.

29(c) Enforcement.--The commission shall monitor, certify and
30enforce the compliance of participating natural gas distribution

1utilities with their obligations under this section.

2Section 7. Commission.

3(a) Approval.--The commission by regulation or order shall
4prescribe the specific procedures to be followed to approve a
5distribution system extension and expansion plan and customer
6contribution criteria, taking into consideration the saturation 
7and other characteristics of each natural gas distribution 

9(b) Eligible costs.--The commission shall establish
10standards to ensure that work on extension and expansion of
11service is performed by qualified employees of either the
12natural gas distribution utility or an independent contractor in
13a manner that protects system reliability and safety of the

15(c) Order.--If the commission determines that the
16distribution system extension and expansion plan is inadequate
17to provide reasonable access to natural gas services by
18residential, commercial or industrial customers, the commission
19shall revise the natural gas distribution utility's plan and
20customer contribution criteria to ensure reasonable access.

21Section 8. Audit.

22(a) Charges.--A charge by a natural gas distribution utility
23to undertake a distribution system extension and expansion plan
24shall be subject to the following:

25(1) Audit at intervals as determined by the commission.

26(2) Reconciliation at intervals as determined by the

28(b) Interest on excess charges.--If revenue received from
29charges under this act exceeds actual costs, the excess received
30shall be refunded with interest to the customer. Interest on

1excess collections shall be calculated at the residential
2mortgage lending rate specified by the Secretary of Banking
3under the act of January 30, 1974 (P.L.13, No.6), referred to as
4the Loan Interest and Protection Law, and shall be refunded in
5the same manner as an excess collection to the customer.

<-6Section 9. Applicability.

7Nothing in this act shall be construed to allow the natural
8gas utility or the commission to pass the cost of an expansion
9or extension project to existing natural gas customers.

10Section 20. Effective date.

11This act shall take effect in 30 days.