Despite a slowdown in natural gas drilling, Pennsylvania will only see a small drop in the amount of impact fees it’s collecting, according to new data released this week by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC).
A year-old law, known as Act 13, places an impact fee on every gas well in the Marcellus Shale formation.
Last year, Act 13 brought in $204 million to the state and local communities. This year, it’s expected to bring in $198 million — a three percent drop.
Hurricane Sandy floods the streets of Atlantic City, NJ
UPDATE: The AP is reporting that as of 6:50 PM, more than 200,000 people have lost power. Check StateImpact Pennsylvania tomorrow morning for a full update on power outages.
At 5:30 on Monday afternoon, more than 44,800 Pennsylvanians have lost power. The total is expected to increase overnight, as Sandy’s winds pick up.
More than 26,000 PECO customers are without power. That’s far more than any other utility, which isn’t surprising considering all but one of PECO’s counties are in southeast Pennsylvania, where Sandy hit the hardest this afternoon.
Here’s a breakdown of how many PECO customers are powerless, as of 5:30 Monday afternoon:
Total, 5:30 PM
Source: PA Public Utility Commission
PECO spokeswoman Jenny Wittman says the utility expects a lot more outages as Hurricane Sandy intensifies. 2,000 employees are still out in the field, and the crews include out-of-state workers from as far away as Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky and Louisiana.
Nearly 9,000 PPL customers have lost power, too. Top counties include:
Bucks: 2,805 customers
In a statement, PPL vice president David Bonenberger said it may take more than a week to fix outages. “We’re working around the clock, and we’ve arranged for more than 1,600 additional outside personnel who will help with damage assessment and outage restoration,” he said. “Nearly all of those additional workers are already here, with more on the way.”
There’s no central public hub tracking every power outage in Pennsylvania, but each utility does provide its own online map. Click on the links below to see how many of each providers’ customers are without power.
Governor Corbett announced his impact fee plan in October 2011. One year later, the money is being distributed to local governments.
Lawrence Township, Clearfield County – come on down! You were one of 26 Pennsylvania municipalities collecting the maximum $500,000 from the first round of Marcellus Shale impact fee distributions.
Governor Corbett announced the county and municipal-level impact fee totals this morning, about a month-and-a-half before the December 1 deadline for sending revenue to local governments.
The money, more than $204 million total, was collected from a $50,000 fee on every horizontal Marcellus Shale well. (Smaller, vertical wells were assessed $10,000). Sixty percent remains at the county and municipal level.
The state Supreme Court is set to hear arguments later this week on the constitutionality of Act 13’s local zoning restrictions, but the judgment won’t affect the law’s fee.
In addition to Lawrence, municipalities in Bradford, Clearfield, Greene, Lycoming, Susquehanna, Tioga and Washington Counties will take in the maximum amount of $500,000.
On the other end of the spectrum, fifteen boroughs will receive less than $10. The lowest total: $1.45 for Trafford, Allegheny County. Another nickel, and the borough manager could use it to buy a soda. (Or pop, since it’s Allegheny County.)
How much money is your township receiving? Continue reading to see a sortable table of municipal impact fee revenue. You can search for individual communities, or change it by clicking on “total” so that the highest or lowest amounts appear on top.
Among the natural gas drillers who have paid up: Texas-based Carrizo Oil and Gas, which had owed the largest amount of money. The company has now paid $2.9 million in fees.
The per-well fee imposed by February’s Act 13 will fluctuate each year, based on the price of natural gas. Drillers owe $50,000-per-horizontal well for wells drilled before 2012.
In all, Pennsylvania will generate about $206 million in revenue this year. The PUC will distribute the money to local governments and state agencies by December 1.
Find out how much money each driller has paid in the following searchable table, which has been updated to include the PUC’s most recent figures:. You can search for specific companies, or click on the top bar to sort the results and see which company owes the most money, or paid the highest fee.
(Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how much fee money each company has paid.)
Drillers were required to submit impact fee payments to the Public Utility Commission by September 3. One week later, the agency released information about how much revenue it collected.
Chesapeake Energy had to cut the largest check: it paid $30.8 million for the 624 wells it drilled before January 1, 2012. Talisman Energy ($26.4 million), Range Resources ($23.7 million), Shell ($15.3 million), and Anadarko ($14.9 million) rounded out the rest of the top five. All of the companies except Shell have paid their fee in full, though Shell owes just $10,000.
Why has the pace of natural gas drilling slowed down around Towanda?
Because energy companies have found too much gas — not just in Bradford County, where Towanda is, but also in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and other states where natural gas is being extracted from shale rock.
The shale gas boom powered by hydraulic fracturing has drastically increased the supply of natural gas on the domestic market. The result: Over the past few years, the price of natural gas cratered to a ten-year low.
A Cabot drilling rig, located in Susquehanna County
Note: Chesapeake Energy’s production data has not been included in the Department of Environmental Protection’s report yet. The company says it submitted the information to the state by Wednesday night’s deadline, and blames a “technical issue” for the snag.
Once Chesapeake’s information is included, Bradford County’s totals will certainly go up . We’ll update this post once the new data is available.
Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale boom is still booming, but at a slower pace. The amount of natural gas taken out of the ground from January to June increased by an astounding 61 percent, compared to the first six months of 2011. However, over the past six months, the rate of growth has slowed to just fourteen percent. That’s according to the Department of Environmental Protection’s semi-annual production report, released in draft form today.
Natural gas drillers are required to report well-by-well production totals to the Department of Environmental Protection every six months. The preliminary January-June 2012 data was due Wednesday evening, and posted on the DEP website Thursday morning.
The number of producing wells (that means wells that are actively turning out gas) in Pennsylvania has steadily gone up over each of the last three reporting periods, from 1,646 to 2,245 to the most recent total of 2,532.
Pennsylvania’s gas prices are inching closer and closer to the $4-a-gallon mark. According to AAA, the average price of gas in the Keystone State was $3.77 last week.
What sets the price you pay at the pump?
You start with the oil. “It’s the crude, it’s the crude,” explained Rayola Doughr, a senior economist at the American Petroleum Institute. “And we’re in a global crude oil marketplace. So that price of the crude is determined every day by all the buyers and sellers in that marketplace.”
Oil runs about $125 a barrel on the East Coast, where it’s shipped in across the Atlantic. It’s much cheaper in the Midwest and mountain states, where crude oil pumped out of North Dakota and Canada sells for about 75 dollars a barrel.
Here in Pennsylvania, eastern crude oil is going for about $2.50 a gallon. Add in Pennsylvania’s state and federal taxes, and “you’re already at $3, before you’ve refined it, transport it or brought it to the retail station,” said Doughr.
What do Pennsylvania’s new Marcellus Shale well production numbers tell us?
Despite falling natural gas prices, the state’s drilling industry continues to grow. The amount of gas extracted increased by 41 percent from July to December, compared to the first six months of the year. The number of producing wells went up by roughly the same amount: 36 percent.
The Department of Environmental Protection’s production report also shows the northeast has supplanted the southwest as Pennsylvania’s main drilling hub. Bradford County overtook Washington as the commonwealth’s top drilling hot spot. The county’s producing well totals increased by 52 percent, to 366, while extracted gas jumped up by more than 34 percent.
The Troy Community Hospital report did reference “an increase in sexually transmitted diseases,” in the years since drilling had increased in Bradford County. But administrator Staci Covey said she was relying on anecdotal evidence, and couldn’t provide hard statistics to back up her claim.
A preliminary look at Pennsylvania Department of Health data refutes the argument that drilling communities are experiencing increased STD rates. Cases of gonorrhea and syphilis in the commonwealth’s top 11 drilling counties have remained relatively level, when you compare figures from 2006 (the year before Marcellus Shale drilling began) and 2010. And while chlamydia cases have increased in 10 of those drilling counties, they’ve also shot up in 57 of 66 counties statewide. (Philadelphia County wasn’t included in the DOH statistics.)