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Pa. regulator authorizes growing PECO Energy's gas service expansion program

PECO Energy Co. will be able to grow its gas extension program that aims to allow customers to pay less up front to gain access to service, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission decided Jan. 17.

The PUC voted unanimously to increase funding for and extend PECO's gas pilot program, known as the Neighborhood Gas Pilot Rider. The pilot, originally approved in 2015, allows new gas customers to pay a fixed monthly surcharge, as opposed to a large up-front payment, to extend natural gas service to their properties.

The Jan. 17 vote extended the rider program by two years to a total of five years and raised PECO's investment limit from $10 million to $25 million.

In approving the extension and expansion, the commission said the pilot program has had "strong customer participation" so far.

The PUC has been an active proponent of facilitating gas access through programs of this nature. The commission has approved similar pilot programs for UGI Corp., Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania Inc. and Peoples Natural Gas Co. LLC.

State regulators have highlighted regionally abundant and low-cost gas in approving expansion plans that help residents gain access to the fuel.