Carol Loveland Penn State
Last week, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PUC) announced that $209,557,300 was collected from industry for the 2017 impact fees, fees on all unconventional wells in the Commonwealth during the first 15 years of operation, and producing 90 million cubic feet (Mcf) of natural gas. This 21% increase from 2016 is due to higher natural gas prices and more new wells.
Of the fees collected, close to $114.8 million will be distributed to counties and municipalities. Top receiving counties are Washington, Susquehanna, Bradford, Greene and Lycoming counties. In 2017, there were 8,471 eligible wells the fees are based on.
The distribution of the 2017 impact fees are as follows:
Counties & Municipalities
|Marcellus Legacy Fund||$76,522,920|
|County Conservation Districts||$7,750,000|
|Dept. of Environmental Protection||$6,000,000|
|Fish & Boat Commission||$1,000,000|
|PA Public Utility Commission||$1,000,000|
|Dept. of Transportation||$1,000,000|
|PA Emergency Management Agency||$750,000|
|Office of State Fire Commissioner||$750,000|
Since the initiation of the impact fee in 2012, the Commonwealth has received over $1.4 billion. This year’s fee total is the highest since 2014, however, the PA Independent Fiscal Office had projected it would have been about $10 million more due to a court ruling expanded definition of ‘stripper’ wells, which produce gas in small volumes and are exempt from impact fees. Nils Hagen-Frederiksen, PUC spokesman, stated 17 companies are disputing the status of over 300 wells, seeking to have them reclassified as stripper wells, resulting in a $6.1 million decline in impact fees.
Information on the county and municipal disbursements as well as other data may be found on the PA PUC’s website