Recent legislation on fuel options in Pa. centers energy use as a consumer's choice or right. As some states move away from natural gas, Senate Bill 275 would maintain Pennsylvania's allegiance to any and all energy sources. The bill was approved by the state Senate on Wednesday.
The bill, referred to as “Energy Choice” legislation, specifically calls for limitations upon municipal entities: it restricts bans of a specific type of fuel source for appliances and heating homes or businesses. According to Sen. Yaw's release on the bill, "the language is fuel-neutral and is not specific to one energy source."
Senators backing the legislation have presented an argument in favor of consumer choice in the energy industry. According to Senator Yaw, Pa. offers a range of energy options, but should allow consumers the individual choice to heat their homes and businesses with any fuel source. Yaw added that other states are passing or have already passed similar measures.
Some industry leaders consider energy choice in terms of financial incentives — especially for natural gas.
“Over the past decade, natural gas utilities in Pennsylvania have added many new customers,” said Terrance J. Fitzpatrick, President and CEO, Energy Association of Pennsylvania. “These residents and businesses chose natural gas because it was the best way to meet their needs and stay within their budgets. This legislation preserves the right of citizens to make those choices, and we hope legislators of both parties will support it.”
Individual financial appeals to natural gas may extend to economic appeals, according to leaders in Pa's industry sector.
“It is imperative Pennsylvania’s businesses retain the option to have access to every energy choice in order to stay competitive in an increasingly challenging global market,” said Gene Barr, President and CEO of the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
“We are fortunate to have a variety of energy choices which provide us some of the lowest energy rates in the nation,” said Jeff Nobers, Executive Director of Pittsburgh Works Together, a nonpartisan alliance of labor unions, business, and civic leaders.
“To allow local governments to restrict that choice would pit municipalities and counties against one another and create an unworkable impact on the energy, utility, and construction industries, and arguably lead to significant cost increases for energy especially hurting the elderly and low-income residents, continued Nobers.
The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.