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SEARCH Working Group

Representatives of the Office of Competitive Market Oversight (OCMO), natural gas suppliers, natural gas distribution companies and consumers participate in the SEARCH Working Group (Stakeholders Exploring Avenues for Removing Competitive Hurdles) to informally resolve issues that arise in the retail natural gas market.

The Action Plan was designed to increase effective competition in Pennsylvania’s retail natural gas market by increasing the participation of natural gas suppliers in the market. The Action Plan was completed on September 11, 2008.

Final SEARCH Order & Action Plan - Order entered on September 11, 2008 at Docket No. I-00040103F0002.

The Action Plan includes three rulemakings that address issues raised by natural gas distribution companies (NGDCs) and natural gas suppliers (NGSs) and those related to NGDC business practices. NGDC issues include price to compare; reconciliation and quarterly adjustments; purchase of receivable programs; mandatory capacity release and non-discrimination; and cost recovery of competition-related activities. NGS issues include creditworthiness of suppliers and reasonable security requirements. NGDC Business practice issues include standardization of NGDC system operating rules; specific operation rules regarding nomination and delivery requirements, tolerance bands, cash out/penalties and standardization of electronic bulletin boards.

For information on the Commission’s Investigation of Pennsylvania’s Retail Natural Gas Market, please see the following page of the Commission’s website: Retail Natural Gas Markets Investigation.


Tentative Order on the Investigation of Pennsylvania's Retail Natural Gas Supply Market - Public Meeting of August 21, 2104. Docket No. I-2013-2381742.

Final Order on Interim Guidelines for NGDC Eligible Customer Lists - Public Meeting of August 15, 2013. Docket No. M-2012-2324075.

NGDC Rulemaking

This rulemaking order sets forth regulations that address matters of concern to NGDCs in the Commission’s implementation of the SEARCH Action Plan. These regulations sought to improve the competitive market by reformulating the “price to compare” for natural gas supply, by establishing rules for NGDC purchase of receivables programs and by providing guidance to ensure that the NGDC’s release, assignment and transfer of capacity to NGSs is nondiscriminatory. To ensure that NGDCs are able to recover costs related to improving the competitive market, the rulemaking changed the handling of the recoverable costs related to competition activities and regulatory assessments.

Natural Gas Rulemaking at Docket No. L-2008-2069114.

NGS License Requirements Rulemaking

This rulemaking revises section 62.111 of the NGS licensing regulations. Section 62.111 sets forth the types of security that may be accepted to satisfy the statutory requirement for licensing as a NGS. See 66 Pa.C.S. § 2208(c)(1)(i). The revisions help to better balance the ability of a NGS to provide adequate security to maintain its licensed status with the NGDC’s risk of financial loss in the event of supplier default. Specific revisions included: (1) the use of NGS accounts receivables in a PUC-approved purchase of receivables (POR) program to satisfy part of, or the total security requirement; (2) the adoption of standard language for financial instruments used for security; and (3) the development of reasonable criteria for NGDCs to use in adjusting the level of security that a NGS must have to maintain its license.

Licensing Requirements at Docket No. L-2011-2266832

Creditworthiness and Security Issues at Docket No. L-2008-2069115.

NGDC Business Practices Rulemaking

This rulemaking establishes common business practices for the statewide retail natural gas market. These standards govern the business relationship between NGDCs and NGSs in regard to financial transactions, communications (information and data and exchange) and system operational rules for the management of gas on an NGDC’s system (imbalance trading, tolerance bands, cash out and penalties, and nominations and capacity). The rulemaking establishes (1) a working group to develop these standards and a model Supplier Coordination Tariff format, and (2) a standing working group to develop standards for data exchange and communications, including electronic bulletin boards. NGDC cost recovery relating to implementing these standards is also addressed. The use of a common set of business practices and supplier coordination tariffs not only will facilitate the entry and participation of NGSs in the retail natural gas supply market, but also will increase efficiency in industry operations.

NGDC Business Practices Rulemaking at Docket No. L-2009-2069117.

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