The House Tuesday passed legislation-- House Bill 1294 (Godshall-R-Montgomery)-- aimed at improving the state's aging water and sewer infrastructure without taxpayer dollars, Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny County) said.
The legislation will encourage public utilities to update their infrastructure through a distribution system improvement charge (DSIC) for natural gas, wastewater and other utility distribution line repairs.
"This legislation is good news for utilities and rate payers who will benefit from more modern and efficient operations," said Rep. Godshall. "The work required for the infrastructure upgrades will also create thousands of new jobs across the Commonwealth at a time when unemployment is at 8.2 percent and 512,000 Pennsylvanians are unemployed."
Pennsylvania's aging infrastructure has been a top concern of the General Assembly and Pennsylvania residents. This legislation, if passed by the Senate and signed by the governor, would make it easier for utilities to make needed repairs or upgrades and enables them to recover the costs as they do so.
"After years of neglect, we are finally enabling much needed upgrades which in turn, will create thousands of jobs throughout Pennsylvania," Rep. Turzai said. "This legislation will benefit utilities, consumers and employers with more modern and efficient operations."
The bill will permit utilities, subject to Public Utility Commission approval, to gradually recover infrastructure investment costs from consumers, rather than impose large increases in customer bills following general rate cases.
House Bill 1294 bill gives the PUC authority to approve, reject or modify alternative rate recovery plans proposed by utilities as a means of recovering capital investments related to infrastructure improvements.
It also enables utilities that provide both water and wastewater services to charge consolidated rates. House Bill 1294 will extend the time between PUC base rate case proceedings, saving taxpayers millions of dollars in the cost of litigating rate cases.
House Bill 1294 passed the House by a vote of 187-17. The measure now goes to the Senate for consideration.