Impact fees paid by natural gas drillers in 2018 will bring nearly $19 million back to the Susquehanna County. Of that overall total, the county is set to receive nearly $7.2 million; and $11.58 million is going to municipalities, according to figures released last week by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC), which oversees the Act 13 collection and disbursements.
From 2018 fees paid by drillers, $251,830,900 will be paid out in disbursements to the state, counties and municipalities – marking the highest amount paid in the years since Act 13 was enacted in 2012. Prior to this year’s total disbursement, 2013 had the disbursement high total of $225.8 million.
“Over the past eight years, Bradford, Lycoming and Susquehanna counties again ranked among the highest recipients of Act 13 revenues,’ Sen. Gene Yaw said. “The impact tax is working. In fact, our state tax brings in more money than the severance taxes in Arkansas, Colorado, Ohio & West Virginia combined. The benefit to my rural Senate district, and rural Pennsylvania as a whole, is immeasurable.”
Proceeds from the impact fees are distributed to counties and local governments, as well as state agencies, to provide for infrastructure upgrades, tax reductions, emergency services, environmental initiatives, housing, delivery of social services, judicial services and more.
Rep. Tina Pickett noted that Susquehanna and Bradford counties ranked second and third, respectively, in terms of revenue received statewide. “As long as drilling is occurring, impact fee revenue will help our local governments deal with the effects caused by the activity in their communities.”
Susquehanna County is the second highest receiving county at $7,184,542 behind Washington County which is set to receive just over $8.4 million. Neighboring Bradford County will receive about $6.2 million.
New Milford Township ranks sixth among the top seven receiving municipalities in the state at about $881,684 in Act 13. Center Township in Greene County is the top municipal recipient at $1.16 million.
However, the New Milford Twp. allocation was nearly $305,000 above the restriction amount of $536,500 or 50 percent of a municipalities adjusted 2017 budget. Other municipalities with impact fees exceeding the restriction amount or budget percentage will also see their allocations adjusted.
Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, which operates primarily in Susquehanna County in its Marcellus holdings, ranked third among the top paying producers in 2018. Cabot’s producer payments totaled over $20 million. Range Resources paid the highest fee – over $32 million; followed by EQT Production at $24.75. Chesapeake Appalachia made nearly $18.3 million in payments; Southwestern paid nearly $15.6; Repsol at $14.2; and Seneca Resources at just over $13 million.
Susquehanna County also ranked second in the well count breakdown 1,540. Washington County had the top well count with 1,747. Two townships ranked among the top seven for well count: New Milford and Springville. New Milford was ranked fifth with 177, followed by Springville in sixth at 170.
Act 13, the law which amended Title 59 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, and was signed by Governor Corbett on February 14, 2012, provides for the imposition of an unconventional gas well fee on drillers operating in the state. Funds generated by the impact fee go directly for local and state purposes. The law also contains a mechanism as to how the fees shall be distributed.
According to Act 13, the fee begins the year the well is “spud,” which is defined as the year the actual drilling of the unconventional well began. The fee for horizontal wells is based upon year of well and average price of natural gas. The average price of natural gas in 2018 was $3.09.
Last year the county received about $5.9 million in Act 13 funding; the $7.2 million allocation from 2018 impact fees paid by drillers tops the previous high of nearly $6.1 million from 2014 fees generated from drilling activity in the county.
More information, charts and Act 13 data can be found on the PUC website: www.puc.pa.gov.