PUC Approves Gas Pipeline Expansion Plan for Valley Energy; Service to be Extended to New Bradford County Customers
May 09, 2019
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today approved a natural gas pipeline expansion plan that will allow Valley Energy Inc., which is based in Bradford County, to extend service across the Susquehanna River and reach new customers.
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve a joint settlement between Valley Energy, the Pennsylvania Office of Consumer Advocate, the Office of Small Business Advocate and the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement.
Under the approved plan, Valley Energy will construct a pipeline across and under the Susquehanna River, along with approximately 18,000 feet of distribution mains, to provide service to residents and businesses in the East Athens area – who do not currently have access to natural gas service from Valley or any other natural gas distribution company.
The total estimated cost for the project is $1.7 million, which includes an award of $850,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development’s Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE).
The settlement allows Valley Energy to establish an “EA Surcharge” to recover a portion of the expansion project costs from new customers applying for service in East Athens – either as a one-time payment or financed over a 10-year period with a monthly charge on their bills.
“I would like to take this opportunity to commend Valley for its practical commitment to extending natural gas service,” said PUC Chair Gladys Brown Dutrieuille, in a statement at today’s PUC public meeting – while also noting the impact of state PIPE grant funding. “Extending access to natural gas distribution service is a challenging endeavor. While the costs of the commodity are extremely competitive when compared to other heating sources, the costs for investment in fixed infrastructure can often be significant. I continue to support reasonable efforts to grow natural gas access in this state while not unreasonably burdening existing customers.”
As part of an ongoing effort to expand access to low-cost natural gas across Pennsylvania, the Commission has encouraged utilities to explore innovative ways to reach unserved or underserved communities – including ways to help reduce or minimize up-front construction and connection costs.
Valley Energy is the latest natural gas distribution company to receive PUC approval for a service extension program – joining Peoples Gas Companies, UGI, Columbia Gas and PECO, who each operate their own unique programs.
Valley Energy currently provides natural gas distribution service to nearly 7,000 customers in Bradford County along with nearly 1,900 customers in nearby New York State.
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Docket No.: P-2018-3006500
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
P.O. Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265
(717) 787-5722 FAX (717) 787-4193