Written by Chloe Marie – Research Specialist
Earlier this year, on June 28, 2019, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law Senate Bill No. 712 – also known as Act 20 – amending Pennsylvania’s Fiscal Code as part of the annual budget process. This annual Fiscal Code legislation often contains provisions addressing a variety of topics. This year, one of these legislative provisions will serve to further expand the Pipeline Investment Program (PIPE). PIPE is a grant program launched on the initiative of Governor Wolf in November 2016 with the purpose of connecting additional households and businesses in Pennsylvania to the piped natural gas network.
Economic development organizations, businesses, municipalities, hospitals, and school districts are eligible to apply for funding, and the grants these entities may receive from PIPE can be used to “cover acquisition, construction, and site preparation costs associated with extending natural gas pipelines to serve eligible applicants.” Though Pennsylvania residents are not eligible applicants to the program, “projects that include residential areas as a beneficiary receive increased attention.” The program guidelines also clarify that the “maximum grant amount of any Pipeline Investment Program project shall not exceed $1 million or 50% of the total project costs, whichever is less.”
Under the new legislation, PIPE has been expanded to include large residential conversion projects with greater than 100 parcels and combined heat and power applications, and the maximum amount of grant has been increased from $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. In addition, the legislation provides that, besides the maximum amount of $1,500,000, a further $500,000 may be granted for costs related to the tapping of upstream facilities. The legislature also directs the Commonwealth Financing Authority within the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development to “develop streamlined guidelines for submitting applications for grants issued in the amount of $75,000 or less to expedite the process.” The new legislation became effective on July 1, 2019.
According to Pennsylvania Representative Jonathan Fritz, one of the sponsors of the expansion of PIPE (originally introduced through House Bill 1103), “By expanding the PIPE grant program and completing the natural gas distribution lines, more jobs will be created, more money will be pumped back into our economy, and manufacturers, businesses and local residents will have equal access to low cost, clean-burning natural gas.”
Pipeline Investment Program Guidelines, Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (last version January 2018)
“Rep. Fritz’s Natural Gas Pipeline Expansion Proposal signed into law,” Pennsylvania Business Report (July 12, 2019)
This material is based upon work supported by the National Agricultural Library, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.