Susquehanna County and its municipalities will see higher Impact Fee funds coming their way this year. The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) posted information on Friday about this year’s distribution – which, statewide – $100 million more than last year.
Susquehanna County will receive about $7,241,245 – about $3.2 million more than the 2021 distribution; and a total of about $12.7 million is headed to the county’s townships and boroughs. (The Act 13 funding for each borough and township in the county can be found on Page 3).
According to information released by the PUC, this year’s higher distribution iss driven primarily by the average price of natural gas in 2021 ($3.84 per MMBtu) versus the average price in 2020 ($2.08 per MMBtu) which generated a higher impact fee payment for each well in 2021 – along with the addition of 518 new wells during 2021.
“The Impact Fee not only funds critical projects locally, but also a wide variety of important environmental projects in communities throughout the state,” said Sen. Gene Yaw (23rd District), who serves as Chair of the Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. “The natural gas industry has been a great partner in creating new jobs and opportunities in our communities, and today’s announcement is another reminder of the importance of this industry in Pennsylvania.”
Yaw detailed, in a release regarding the Act 13 disbursement, that Susquehanna County has received over $60 million in Impact Fee funding since 2011, and municipalities in the county have received over $99 million since 2011.
“Our region continues to benefit from the natural gas under our feet with impact fee totals for each of the three counties coming in higher than last year,” said Rep. Tina Pickett (110th District). “Our local governments welcome this annual funding, which goes toward important infrastructure projects and emergency response efforts.”
Pickett noted that Susquehanna and Bradford counties ranked second and third, respectively, in terms of impact fees received, behind Washington County in western Pennsylvania.
Three of the top seven receiving municipalities are located in the county: Auburn ($1.2 million), New Milford ($1 million) and Springville ($947,000).
Both Coterra Energy and Southwestern Energy were among the top seven in producer payments for 2021. Coterra Energy paid nearly $23.8 million in Act 13 fees, and Southwestern paid in over $17 million.
Susquehanna County has the second most wells in the state at 1,841, behind Washington County at 1,938. Neighboring Bradford County has 1,507 wells.
According to the PUC data, Auburn, New Milford and Springville townships are also listed among municipalities with most wells:
New Milford: 191;
In addition to counties and municipalities directly affected by drilling, $86,030,934 will be transferred to the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which provides financial support for environmental, highway, water and sewer projects, rehabilitation of greenways and other projects throughout the state. Also, $25,189,477 will be distributed to state agencies, as specified by Act 13, according to the PUC release.
With this year’s distribution, the PUC has collected and distributed over $2.2 billion to Pennsylvania communities.
The PUC has forwarded the information to the Department of Treasury for payment and expects checks to be distributed in early July.
Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Callahan said the state’s tax on natural gas development generated $234 million in 2021, marking the second-largest amount ever returned to communities. In the 2018 reporting year – the highest amount since enacted – nearly $252 million was generated in Act 13 fees.
“Generating $2.3 billion in essential funding for state and local governments across all 67 counties, Pennsylvania’s unique natural gas tax is an effective policy that yields impactful results,” Callahan said.
“The nearly 60 percent increase in this year’s distribution is directly related to heightened activity levels and the commodity price environment, underscoring the importance of policies that encourage domestic natural gas development, transportation and use. Our members continue to be focused on responsibly developing clean, abundant Pennsylvania natural gas, which is even more important today in keeping America and our allies energy secure.”
Callahan continued, “Our industry provides much more than clean and abundant natural gas. Good-paying jobs, economic prosperity, and – as demonstrated by the impact fee – sustained community investment programs are all made possible through responsible, Pennsylvania natural gas development.”
Extensive details regarding the impact fee distribution are available on the Pennsylvania PUC website, including specifics on funds collected and distributed for each year since 2011. Visitors can search and download statistics such as distributions to individual municipalities or counties; allocation and usage of those funds, based on reports submitted by various municipalities; eligible wells per county/municipality; and payments by producers.
The PUC is responsible for implementing the collection and distribution of an unconventional gas well fee (also called an Impact Fee), established by the Unconventional Gas Well Impact Fee Act and signed into law as Act 13 of 2012.
Enacted in 2012 through Act 13, Pennsylvania’s natural gas development tax generates annual revenue directly tied to drilling activity in the state. Key statewide regulatory and environmental conservation programs are also funded through the tax, and each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties share in the revenues.
This year, more than $129 million will be distributed to county and local governments, with $105 million allocated to statewide environmental programs and regulatory oversight, including:
Marcellus Legacy Fund: $86,030,934;
County Conservation Districts, State Conservation Commission: $8,860,241;
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection: $6,000,000;
Fish & Boat Commission: $1,000,000;
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation: $1,000,000;
Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission: $1,000,000;
Office of the State Fire Commissioner: $750,000.