April 1, 2015

House Committee Hears Electric, Natural Gas Industries Priorities For Coming Year

The House Consumer Affairs Committee Tuesday held an informational meeting to learn about electric and natural gas industry priorities for the coming year.
Terrance Fitzpatrick, President of the Energy Association of PA, said a number of policy issues need to be addressed, including: elimination of the Consolidated Tax Adjustment (CTA) in rate proceedings, retail competition enhancements, transfer of the Underground Utility Line Protection Law to the PUC, and gas line extensions.
Tony Cusati, from the Natural Gas Caucus of the Retail Energy Supply Association and offered his support of House Bill 57 (Godshall-R-Montgomery) to improve competition in the natural gas retail market.
Richard Hudson, from the Electric Caucus and the Retail Energy Supply Association, suggested comprehensive consumer education, all cost and risks related to default service should be reflected in default service rates, default service must be market reflective, utilities should be encouraged to cooperate with suppliers, and the impact of renewable energy policies must be considered.
Matt Sommer, President of Shipley Energy, thanked the Committee for its work on House Bill 57 (Godshall-R-Montgomery) which he said will simplify the process of switching to alternative suppliers and was optimistic that the Public Utility Commission’s ongoing Retail Market Investigation into the natural gas market will provide a venue to identify further steps that can be taken to enhance competition.  He said “more programs…should be enacted to encourage customers to elect alternative supply. The provider of last resort function should be just that, a last resort and structurally more should be done to encourage the easy transition to other supply options.”
Matt White, General Counsel, IGS Energy, said to improve Pennsylvania’s competitive markets, White suggested Pennsylvania engage and educate customers, remove barriers to customer engagement such as the default service model, allow customers to enroll with a supplier immediately and remotely, ensure competitive suppliers and default suppliers are subject to the same requirements, and empower the PUC to punish bad actors.
Rep. Robert Godshall (R-Montgomery), Majority Chair of the Committee, concluded the meeting by saying a lot more needs to be done to improve natural gas competition.
Rep. Peter Daley (D-Washington) serves as Minority Chair.