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Pennsylvania PUC Investigates ‘Dismal’ Competitiveness of Natural Gas Market

Penn. PUC logoThe Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) launched an investigation into the state’s retail natural gas market, citing its desire to “grow the use of natural gas,” of which only 13 percent of current customers purchase gas from a competitive supplier.

The Commission will initiate a formal investigation into the current status of Pennsylvania’s retail natural gas market to assess whether effective competition exists and make recommendations for improvements to ensure consumers have more opportunities to realize the benefits of Pennsylvania’s natural gas resources.

The Commission voted 5-0 to approve the motion, which included a list of eight questions for interested parties to submit answers to by Dec. 12. The PUC then directed its Office of Competitive Markets Oversight to review the comments and provide recommendations outlining specific courses of action to improve the competitiveness of Pennsylvania’s retail gas market.

In October 2005, the PUC determined that effective competition did not exist in Pennsylvania’s retail natural gas market. As a result, the Commission was required by law to convene a natural gas stakeholders working group to explore avenues, including legislative, in order to encourage increased competition.

While the PUC has implemented a number of changes in an attempt to enhance retail gas competition, “The number of current customers purchasing gas from a competitive supplier remains dismal at less than 13 percent on a statewide basis,” Commissioner Witmer and Commissioner Cawley said in the motion. “To that end, our action today launches a process to assess whether effective competition exists and make recommendations for improvements to ensure that a properly functioning and workable competitive retail natural gas market operates in the Commonwealth.”

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