New UGI program reduces upfront gas service cost

Program approved by PUC Thursday

HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has approved a settlement for a pilot program that changes the way UGI's Pennsylvania gas distribution utilities charge customers for line extension projects.

The change allows customers who want natural gas service extended to their property to pay for it over 10 years, as a charge on their monthly bills, rather than paying the full cost of a pipe extension up front, which can cost thousands of dollars.

"I am pleased to lend my support to this innovative effort by the UGI companies," said PUC Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer in a statement after Thursday's decision.

"Marcellus shale has made Pennsylvania the second largest producer of natural gas in the country and today's action will give more Pennsylvanians the opportunity to take advantage of this efficient and clean burning natural resource.

"I challenge other natural gas utilities operating in underserved or unserved areas to also begin thinking creatively on how they, too, can bring a homegrown fuel to more Pennsylvania businesses and homeowners."

The PUC voted 5-0 to approve the UGI's implementation of the Growth Extension Tariff (GET Gas) pilot programs.

The settlement was reached among UGI Utilities Inc. – Gas Division; UGI Penn Natural gas Inc.; UGI Central Penn Gas, the PUC's independent Bureau of Investigation & Enforcement, the Office of Consumer Advocate and the Office of Small Business Advocate.

Under most natural gas company tariffs, a customer who wishes to have natural gas service extended to their property must pay the cost of that line extension, which can run in the thousands of dollars, as an up-front payment.

The GET Gas program allows eligible customers to pay the extension costs over 10 years as an on-bill monthly charge.

Eligible customers are those who are seeking an extension of company facilities that would require a total capital cost of $15,000 or more, a per customer maximum project cost of $10,000, and where at least 50 percent of the prospective customers along the path of the GET Gas facilities can reasonably be estimated to convert their heating source to natural gas within a 12-year period after natural gas facilities are first installed.

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