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,
17commercial or industrial entities not receiving natural gas

1service within an existing certificated service area.

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

11"Natural gas distribution utility." As defined in 66 Pa.C.S.
12§ 1403 (relating to definitions). <-The term shall not include a 
13city natural gas distribution operation.

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 expansions and the 
7numbers of customers affected for each potential project 
8demonstrating a reasonable increase in the service area
9of 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 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 and order the natural gas
26distribution utility to submit a revised plan. Any changes to
27the 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(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(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) 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) Adjustment.--The natural gas distribution utility shall
18adjust a customer contribution to reflect changes in expansion
19or extension of service to customers.

20(d) Bill.--The charge assessed under this section shall
21appear as a separate, itemized line on the customer's bill.

22Section 5. Notification.

23The natural gas distribution utility shall provide
24notification to all its customers of its distribution system
25extension and expansion plan and customer contribution criteria
26at least once a year. The initial notification shall be included
27in the monthly bill of the customer. After initial notification,
28notice of the distribution system extension and expansion plan
29and customer contribution criteria shall be posted on the
30natural gas distribution utility's Internet website.

1Section 6. Bona fide request program.

2(a) Provision.--A natural gas distribution utility shall
3provide, as part of the plan, a bona fide request program in
4areas where it does not provide service or for expansion of
5service and the manner in which customers will be charged for 
6expansion. The plan shall provide for priority of extension or
7expansion projects if there is any of the following:

8(1) A large aggregation of residential, commercial or
9industrial entities who ask to obtain or expand service.
10Expedited consideration shall be based on the number of
11potential customers, the density of the area seeking service,
12the potential usage and the cost of extending or expanding

14(2) An economic development corporation, which as part
15of a development project which will create 30 or more jobs,
16requires expanded or extended service.

17(b) Description.--The natural gas distribution utility shall
18provide the commission with a written description of the
19program, a sample request for prioritization of extension or
20expansion projects, explanation of how the outreach program 
21could expand its customer class, how geographic issues will be 
22evaluated and the form of any agreement prospective customers
23will be required to execute in connection with receiving the gas

25(c) Enforcement.--The commission shall monitor, certify and
26enforce the compliance of participating natural gas distribution
27utilities with their obligations under this section.

28Section 7. Commission.

29(a) Approval.--The commission by regulation or order shall
30prescribe the specific procedures to be followed to approve a

1distribution system extension and expansion plan and customer
2contribution criteria, taking into consideration the saturation 
3and other characteristics of each natural gas distribution 

5(b) Eligible costs.--The commission shall establish
6standards to ensure that work on extension and expansion of
7service is performed by qualified employees of either the
8natural gas distribution utility or an independent contractor in
9a manner that protects system reliability and safety of the

11(c) Order.--If the commission determines that the
12distribution system extension and expansion plan is inadequate
13to provide reasonable access to natural gas services by
14residential, commercial or industrial customers, the commission
15shall revise the natural gas distribution utility's plan and
16customer contribution criteria to ensure reasonable access.

17Section 8. Audit.

18(a) Charges.--A charge by a natural gas distribution utility
19to undertake a distribution system extension and expansion plan
20shall be subject to the following:

21(1) Audit at intervals as determined by the commission.

22(2) Reconciliation at intervals as determined by the

24(b) Interest on excess charges.--If revenue received from
25charges under this act exceeds actual costs, the excess received
26shall be refunded with interest to the customer. Interest on
27excess collections shall be calculated at the residential
28mortgage lending rate specified by the Secretary of Banking
29under the act of January 30, 1974 (P.L.13, No.6), referred to as
30the Loan Interest and Protection Law, and shall be refunded in

1the same manner as an excess collection to the customer.

2Section 9. Applicability.

3Nothing in this act shall be construed to allow the natural
4gas utility or the commission to pass the cost of an expansion
5or extension project to existing natural gas customers.

6Section 20. Effective date.

7This act shall take effect in 30 days.