Public Utility Commission

Pat Pilon / Flickr

  Public utility companies cannot charge customers a fee to receive a paper utility bill in the mail, the Public Utility Commission decided Thursday.

The five-member commission unanimously approved a motion concluding the expense of providing a paper bill to customers is included in operating expenses of the utility and charging a fee is not consistent with commission regulations, long-standing precedent or established practices of Pennsylvania Public Utilities.

Imagine someone comes to your house claiming to be from the water or gas company. He says he's come to do some work in the area, but you weren’t expecting him. What if he isn’t who he says he is, and how can you tell?

Ride-sharing services Lyft and Uber have been granted temporary operating licenses in the Pittsburgh area, but it’s still up the Public Utility Commission to determine if they should be granted permanent permission to operate, and whether regulatory changes are needed to fit them into the transportation landscape.

A PUC hearing Thursday tackled the issue.

“I think that it would be embarrassing if we step back and say ‘no, we’re not going to accept this innovation,’” said state Rep. Erin Molchany.

Penn Power and West Penn Power customers could pay more for their electricity beginning this fall.

The companies, subsidiaries of FirstEnergy, filed rate hike requests with the state Public Utility Commission (PUC) Monday.

West Penn Power, which serves about 720,000 customers, is seeking an increase of more than $115 million per year. If approved, average residential customers would see a nearly 15 percent increase—or $13.26—in their monthly bill.

The state Public Utility Commission has approved emergency permits for two ride-sharing companies that have been operating in the Pittsburgh area.
The companies have come under fire over concerns that drivers, their vehicles and their insurance don't meet regulations for taxi cabs and other similar services. The companies have argued their services are just as safe but have been targeted because they don't fit neatly into current public transportation regulations.

The ride-sharing company Uber has asked the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for an emergency permit, which would allow the company to resume experimental service.

State Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) started drafting legislation last week that would legalize ride-sharing in Pennsylvania.

State legislators are preparing a measure that would allow ride-sharing services such as Lyft and Uber to operate in Pennsylvania, days after administrative judges with the Public Utility Commission (PUC) ordered the companies to cease operations.

Sen. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) has already drafted a bill that would lessen the PUC's regulations on background checks, insurance, vehicle inspections, and most importantly, licensing.

Regulators want two ride-sharing companies to stop doing business in Pennsylvania.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission's Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement is pursing cease-and-desist orders against San Francisco-based ride-share companies Lyft and Uber.

The companies have five days to respond.

Shopping around could save customers from a 20-50 percent increase on energy bills stating June 1st according to the Public Utility Commission (PUC).

Every quarter energy suppliers are allowed to adjust prices according to how much they are spending.

This winter was a harsh one, with days of bitter cold temperatures that caused many households to turn up the thermostat.

Because of the high demand, many consumers who’d signed up for variable rate pricing plans had a nasty shock when their bills increased dramatically. Now the Public Utility Commission is stepping in to try and ensure customers understand what they are signing up for.

Gas Drilling Impact Fee Revenue Up 11 Percent This Year

Apr 4, 2014
Lindsay Lazarski / WHYY

Pennsylvania expects to collect $224.5 million in impact fees levied on natural gas drilling companies this year– an 11 percent increase over the amount collected last year.

The state’s 2012 oil and gas law, Act 13, charges drillers for each well. The fee can range from $40,000 to $60,000 per well, depending on the price of natural gas.

This year, drillers paid $50,000 for new horizontal wells– up from $45,000 last year because the price of gas increased. Smaller, vertical wells paid $10,000.

The Public Utility Commission, or PUC, is reviewing the policies and rules of electric generation suppliers after numerous complaints about abnormally high energy bills.

The PUC has received more than 750 informal complaints from Pennsylvania residents concerning their energy bills. The commission is concerned about customers under variable rate contracts.

When the Hatfield’s Ferry and Mitchell power plants were closed last fall, PJM officials assured customers and legislators that the power grid’s reliability would not be affected.

However, many southwestern Pennsylvania customers were asked to limit power consumption when temperatures reached a record low last week.

Now state Sen. Tim Solobay (D-Washington) and state Rep. Pam Snyder (D - Fayette) have written a letter to PJM officials and the Public Utility Commission expressing concern — and frustration — about the warnings.

PA Lags in Renewable Energy Standards

Nov 12, 2013

Eight percent is not enough according to State Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery).   He’s referring to a 2004 state law that requires power-generating utilities in Pennsylvania to have at least eight percent of their output from renewable sources—hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal—by 2021.

“It (eight percent) was not ambitious but it was reasonable in 2004,” says Leach.  “But time, technology and other states have passed us by.”