Senate committee advances measure ensuring access to diverse energy options

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The Pennsylvania Senate’s Local Government Committee has approved legislation ensuring state residents and businesses have options for fuel availability, the legislation’s prime sponsor Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23) said Tuesday.

Senate Bill 275, the “Energy Choice” legislation, would limit municipal entities from banning specific types of fuel sources for appliances and heating homes or businesses. The language, the senator said, is fuel-neutral and not specific to any one type of energy source.

“It’s about consumer choice and keeping energy costs low,” Yaw said. “As many states seek to ban fuel sources, such as natural gas, Pennsylvania residents have a myriad of energy options to choose from, and we should keep it that way.”

He added that similar laws have been passed or are moving through legislative channels in other states this year.

“It’s unfortunate that this legislation is even necessary in the first place,” Yaw said. “When municipal governments start picking winners and losers, then we have a serious problem.”

Allowing local government to limit access to some fuel sources would raise energy prices, advocates said.

“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 working for an all-of-the-above agenda for job creation and balanced policy and regulation. “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.”