PUC

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

Residents can offer feedback on Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s proposed rate increases for water and sewer conveyance at a series of public hearings this week.

Amy Sisk / StateImpact Pennsylvania

By including more pipelines in Pennsylvania’s one-call law and creating a more robust enforcement system, state officials hope to cut down on incidents where residents or excavators accidentally hit pipelines and cables when digging underground.

Those incidents happen 6,000 times per year in Pennsylvania. Before they dig, residents and contractors are required to dial 8-1-1 and ask for utility companies with lines or cables in their area to come out and mark the locations.

Elise Amendola / AP

The state Public Utility Commission is considering taking over jurisdiction of certain utilities from the federal government in an effort to boost efforts to bring high-speed broadband to underserved rural areas.

The PUC said its main goal is resolving telephone pole disputes faster than the Federal Communications Commission can.

One of the main ways broadband gets to customers is through aerial wires on utility poles.

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

If a state agency approves new rates proposed by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, residential customers could see their bills increase by 16.7 percent next year, but remain the same in 2020. That would be an increase of $10.61 for a typical household using roughly 3,000 gallons a month. 

That's a smaller increase than the agency once envisioned for 2019 and 2020.

Margaret J. Krauss / 90.5 WESA

The board of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority voted Friday to increase the 2018 budget by about $12 million. They approved money to cover the costs of complying with brand new regulations—and some old ones—as well as to fund urgent repair work.

A big chunk of the increase, about $7 million, comes from the costs of organizing PWSA to meet the requirements of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), according to chief of administration Debbie Lestitian. PUC began its oversight of PWSA on April 1.

Kailey Love / 90.5 WESA

It’s a classic image of American cinema: The outlaw saunters down a deserted main street while a sheriff holds the other end. They face off, guns drawn.

On Monday, Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission will begin oversight of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. Though it won't be quite like a scene from a Western, there are plenty of legal questions involved.

Gene J. Puskar / AP Photo

Ride-sharing and technology company Uber will pay $3.5 million into the state’s general fund to settle a long-running dispute with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. Commissioners approved the settlement in a four to one vote Thursday. The civil penalty is one-third of the original $11.4 million fine levied against Uber. 

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

 

The state agency that regulates taxicabs and transportation businesses in Pennsylvania says it doesn't have jurisdiction over free trips in self-driving cars being offered by Uber, but it will once the company starts charging. 

Sarah Kovash / 90.5 WESA

Gov. Tom Wolf, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald are criticizing the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for fining ride-sharing company Uber $11.4 million.

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?

Making Gas Bills in PA More Informative

Apr 27, 2015

Many Pennsylvanians don’t know that they can choose who supplies the natural gas that comes into their homes, and many that have chosen a gas supplier have very little understanding of that relationship, according to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. 

Now the PUC has taken a step toward addressing the later.

The commission has approved a tentative order to require gas bills to set aside space for information about the company that is supplying the gas.

Powerfund / flickr

It could be a big year for energy decisions; state and federal policies could affect everything from conservation to energy costs:

  • The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is set to unveil the next phase of its Energy Efficiency program, which requires electricity distribution companies to implement energy conservation plans, later this month.
  • Later this year, courts will decide whether conservation programs should be run by the utilities who sell energy or the owners of the grid who distribute it.
  • And, the Environmental Protection Agency will finalize new carbon emissions standards this summer.

The ride-sharing service Uber has won conditional license approval across the state, including Pittsburgh.

The two-year experimental service will only go into effect if Uber meets a number of conditions laid out by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission within the next 30 days. One of those conditions is that Uber drivers get insurance coverage for all three stages of their customer interactions: making themselves available via the Uber app, connecting with a passenger and dropping the passenger off at his or her destination.

Two Public Utility Commission Administrative Law judges may have recommended that the full Commission deny Uber’s application for a permanent license, but the ride sharing company doesn’t need to slam on the brakes quite yet.

“After weighing the evidence in the cases of the Uber applications that were before the Commission, our administrative law judges wrote recommended decisions addressing each of the issues in the case,” Denise McCracken, PUC Deputy Press Secretary, said. “These recommended decisions are denying the applications by Uber.”

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission today approved a $1.3 million settlement with West Penn Power after the distribution company missed energy reduction requirements in 2011.

According to the PUC, West Penn Power, a First Energy company, violated the state’s energy conservation law, Act 129, when it failed to reduce its consumption by 1 percent in May 2011. Under the law, West Penn Power was required to decrease its energy intake by 209,387 megawatt-hours, but reported savings of 90,520 megawatt-hours.

West Penn was the only utility to miss the May 2011 deadline.

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 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.