Last updated: February 20. 2014 11:43PM - 1165 Views
By Joe Sylvester jsylvester@civitasmedia.com

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Residents and business owners who want to switch to natural gas soon will have a more affordable way to do so.

State and UGI officials credit the Marcellus Shale gas production with making that possible.

The state Public Utility Commission on Thursday voted 5-0 to approve UGI’s Growth Extension Tariff, or GET Gas, pilot program. Beginning in early fall, it will allow new customers of UGI’s Pennsylvania gas distribution utilities to make monthly payments over 10 years for line extensions, rather than pay in advance.

“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,” PUC Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer said in an issued statement.

UGI spokesman Joseph Swope said customers could save an average of $1,500 a year by converting to natural gas from another heating source. They could take part of that savings to pay the monthly charge for the line extension.

“This is a pilot program,” Swope said. “If it’s successful, and we certainly hope it’s a success, we’ll have the ability to expand the program.”

He said the company hopes to add 10,000 customers to the approximately 600,000 customers it already has in 45 counties of Pennsylvania.

To be eligible for the program, a business must be seeking an extension requiring a total capital cost of at least $15,000, and a residential customer must be seeking a project costing a maximum $10,000, and at least 50 percent of the prospective customers along the path of the GET Gas line must reasonably be estimated to convert to natural gas within a 12-year period after natural gas facilities are first installed, according to the PUC.

UGI said it plans to fund the pilot program at a level of $15 million a year for five years. The surcharges will remain fixed over a 10-year payment period and will stay with the service location if a customer moves, according to UGI.

The pilot program will be available to potential customers in all three of UGI’s natural gas distribution companies: UGI Utilities – Gas Division, UGI Penn Natural Gas, which serves 160,000 customers in Northeastern Pennsylvania, and UGI Central Penn Gas.

Additional information is available at www.ugi.com; on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ugiutilities, and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ugi_utilities.

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