County to receive $156,000 in shale impact fees

June 18, 2020
The Indiana Gazette

The Public Utility Commission said Wednesday it expects to get the go-ahead next month from the state Treasury Department to distribute more than $200 million from the 2019 collection of impact fees levied on natural gas producers through the state’s Act 13 program.

For Indiana County, that includes a direct contribution of $84,944.68 plus another $71,380.73 from what is called the Marcellus Legacy Fund, for a total of $156,325.41.

There also will be distributions for all 38 Indiana County municipalities.

The fees are determined by the number of unconventional wells, or wells that are drilled or spudded in a given year to tap into unconventional formations, such as Marcellus shale.

The PUC said the distribution is approximately $42.6 million lower than last year, driven primarily by the average price of natural gas falling from $3.09 per MMBtu, or million British Thermal Units, in 2018 to $2.63 per MMBtu in 2019. That meant a lower impact fee payment for each well in 2019.

For Indiana County, the distribution is down from $217,550.20 for the 2018 collection of impact fees, with the direct contribution down from $125,045.98 and the Marcellus Legacy funding, or about 40 percent of the total distribution, down from $92,504.22.

For 2019, the five largest distributions will go to Center Township, $29,832.17; Cherryhill Township, $21,930.12; Green Township, $14,784.19; North Mahoning Township, $12,785.68; and Brush Valley Township, $9,656.30. Not far behind are Young Township, $9,495.68; and White Township, $8,952.39.

Top municipalities for 2018 were the townships of Cherryhill ($41,748); Center ($38,220); White ($24,624); Green ($19,020); North Mahoning ($16,588); and Young ($11,847), as well as Indiana Borough ($14,868). Brush Valley is up from $2,459.11 in 2018, while Indiana dropped to $2,945.45 for 2019.

The PUC said county and municipal governments directly affected by drilling will receive more than $109 million for the 2019 reporting year, with more than $72 million being 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, another $18.4 million will be distributed to state agencies, as specified by Act 13.

Other Indiana County municipalities getting $1,000 or more: Armstrong Township, $2,991.23; Blacklick Township, $1,196.07; Blairsville, $1,780.41; Buffington Township, $1,274.49; Burrell Township, $2,992.81; Canoe Township, $1,709.89; Conemaugh Township, $2,285.17; East Mahoning Township, $1,421.08; East Wheatfield Township, $1,737.58; Grant Township, $1,216.15; Montgomery Township, $1,587.33; Pine Township, $1,566.50; Rayne Township, $3,248.63; South Mahoning Township, $1,922.36; Washington Township, $2,475.32; West Mahoning Township, $1,511.76; and West Wheatfield Township, $5,721.68.

Those getting less than $1,000 are Armagh, $62.65; Banks Township, $957.25; Cherry Tree, $205.40; Clymer, $821.23; Creekside, $84.85; Ernest, $111.11; Glen Campbell, $94.90; Homer City, $902.67; Marion Center, $107.86; Plumville, $78.73; Saltsburg, $448.11; Shelocta, $77.47; and Smicksburg, $39.38.

In neighboring counties:

  • Armstrong County is getting a lot less than last year, $465,349.15 in direct grants, down from $1.4 million, and $55,129.77 in legacy funding, down from $71,468.93 last year, for a total of $520,478.92.
  • Westmoreland County is down from $1.55 million in 2018 to $1.16 million in 2019, including $864,219.86 in direct grants, $296,174.47 in legacy funding.
  • Jefferson is down to $162,435.36, $125,570.40 for general needs, $36,864.96 for legacy needs, from $264,029.22 in 2018, $216,351.35 for county-wide needs, $47,677.87 for legacy needs.
  • Cambria only gets funds for legacy needs. It is down from $144,396.64 in 2018 to $111,276.60 in 2019.
  • Clearfield is getting $406,840.35, including $339,778.74 for county-wide needs, $67,061.61 for legacy needs. That’s down from $522,420.82 in 2018, $444,590.38 for general needs, $83,351.55 for legacy needs.